Demand for Catholic school places prompts ‘baptism checks’

Pupils hoping to get into high-performing Catholic schools in East Renfrewshire may have to provide baptismal certificates. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pupils hoping to get into high-performing Catholic schools in East Renfrewshire may have to provide baptismal certificates. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Pupils who want to attend some of Scotland’s leading Catholic schools may be forced to prove their religion with “baptismal certificates” to tackle the growing clamour for places, it has emerged.

A growing number of non-Catholic pupils attend these schools and checks are now being earmarked for future applications in the region which houses many of Scotland’s top state secondaries.

East Renfrewshire, which is behind the plan, says the number of families choosing a Catholic school for their children has increased by around a fifth in parts of the council area.

Many of these schools are now at full capacity or approaching it.

Action is now being taken which could thwart the wishes of non-Catholic parents who want to send their youngsters to these schools.

“We are proposing to consult on changes to current admissions arrangements to give priority to Roman Catholic baptised children if they live in the school’s catchment in the event that a Roman Catholic school is oversubscribed,” the council said last night.

“In cases of oversubscription, non-Roman Catholic children will therefore be offered a place in their local non-denominational catchment school.”

East Renfrewshire, to the south-east of Glasgow, is widely seen as the best area in Scotland for state education with schools like the non-denominational Williamwood among the best in the country.

Families are keen to move to the area to secure a top education for their children and this has led to soaring demand for places – particularly in Catholic schools.

The primaries Our Lady of the Missions, St Cadoc’s and St Joseph’s are feeling the admission squeeze, as well as St Ninian’s High School.

Council leader Jim Fletcher said: “We are very proactive in ensuring that our residents can get into the schools of their choice wherever possible and have already taken a range of steps to increase capacity.

“However, demand for Roman Catholic school places is continuing to grow at a rate that requires us to now take further measures to ensure we can meet demand from our resident population.”

But Tory councillor Jim Swift said the council failed to plan for an increasing Catholic population.

“It has had several opportunities to get this right, and each time it has messed up,” he said.

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