St Barts school admissions

St Bartholomew's Primary School Mission Statement:
"... as a Church of England (voluntary controlled) School, Christian values are built into its ethos and a high priority is attached to strong links between home, school and parish, with the active involvement of the Foundation Governors and local clergy. The school aims to develop in pupils a sympathetic understanding of the Christian faith..."

Mrs R Kilmister  Head Teacher "...Our distinctive Christian nature permeates all aspects of school life and we see the close link with St. Bartholomew's church as a core element of our school.
(Click here for School Website)

OFSTED : "Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is outstanding, supported by the nurturing ethos and high expectations in all situations in school."

Rev Preb Ben Whitmore - Vicar St Bart's:
"Dear parents and carers,
St. Bartholomew's primary school reception, Penn is a Church of England Voluntary controlled  school with a very fine reputation. As you can imagine there is great competition for places in reception every year.
One of the common ways of gaining entry into Saint Bartholomew's Reception is by demonstrating a 'strong religious connection'. In order to get this you need to fill-in the Voluntary Controlled  Supplementary Information Form. (Links at the bottom of the page) 

One of the issues that arises every year is what is the definition of a 'strong religious connection'. The purpose of this letter is to give you some guidance as to what we might mean by this:

St Bartholomew’s CE Multi Academy Trust define strong religious connections as attendance at a place of worship on at least two occasions per month for at least 2 years.​

(Please note Little Acorns, Life Groups, Bart's Butterflies, and any other group are not considered to be weekly Service attendance, but can be 'additional considerations')
St Bartholomew's church is very well attended every week. As a result, with the best will in the world, the vicar cannot always get to know everybody by name. For this reason, if you are wishing to apply for a "demonstrated strong religious connection", it would help if you register your presence with your child, in church when you attend. This is done by going into the Oak room before the service where a register is taken each week for the children. That way we have a record and there can be no doubt. If you wish to keep your children in church for the service just register their name and then take them back into church for the service.
When you come to me for your form to be signed in December, January, it would be helpful if you could write a short letter stating how long you have attended Bart's and your connections with us.
Please understand that for us this is a difficult and contentious issue. A person's prime motivation for attending church should be to worship God.
Yours in Christ, Rev. Preb .B. Whitmore"

A cover letter.
As Rev Ben said in his letter "the vicar cannot always get to know everybody". Whether you are relatively new to the church, or been here for some years, we ask you to provide him a cover letter so he can confidently endorse your application. This is your opportunity to state how often you have attended the weekly worship services over the last two years or more, and how you have demonstrated your connections to St Bart's or St Anne's with your actions. 

Guidance on Cover letter Demonstrating Strong Religious Connections:
St Bart's and St Anne's understand that each family unit is unique and for many reasons partners/husbands/wives maybe unable to attend some of the worship Services. If there are mitigating circumstances please write honestly and tell us what those circumstances are. If you have been worshipping at another church and have recently moved to Penn we ask you to provide documentary evidence from your previous church.

What sort of things should we write about in the cover letter?
The main aspects to highlight are those asked for on the application form - Length of time each family member has attended and how regularly, along with "additional considerations" so the Vicar can then write a few lines to recommend your application. 
We only need a short potted history. (One side of A4 will be fine.)
Here are some points to ask yourself when "demonstrating a Strong religious connection" in your cover letter.

    • How long and regularly have I/we been coming to the Worship Services at St Bart's/St Anne's? One year or more? Do we come to the Service every week or fortnightly?
      Note: Regular Worship Service attendance is an essential requirement. Without prioritising this, the Vicar cannot endorse your form. Evidence of "additional considerations" is used to back up this precondition.
    • Do we, as parents both come and worship as a family?
    • Have we registered as a St Bart's and Anne's member?
    • Are we using our professional or unique talents to help the church? Teaching, Singing, Book keeping, other professions etc?
    • Do we help with Church Life? Cleaning/Gardening/Teas/Magazine delivery/Painting and DIY, Bellringing, giving out books, a member of the Choir or any other church group? etc?.
    • What ways have we offered and helped the Church?
    • Do we do any volunteer work outside of the church?
    • Were we Married/Baptised here? Did we go to Bart's School?
    • Are we involved in any charities or fundraising in or out of the church?
    • Can we give examples of how have we put ourselves forward to give our time?
    • Have we explored our faith? Start Course/Alpha course/Living Faith course or Member of Lifegroup?
    • What children groups are we attending, Barts butterflies? Little Acorns? Sunday Creche?
    • Do we help with leadership with the Crèche/ Sunday school/?
    • Are we committed to giving generously, not just our time, but financially by standing order?
    • Why is it so important to us that our child goes to St Barts School when there are other good schools?
    • What does St Barts Church mean to us?
    • How have we expressed our faith out in the community?

(How to be involved in church activities can be found HERE)

Your child's formative years are influenced by the attitudes and beliefs of the parents and carers. To achieve the high standards expected for your children at St Bart's school with its Christian ethos, it follows that you, as parents should lead by example with a steady commitment in worship to God, and active service to the church and its community.  

Let's be blunt: Here are the answers to the questions you really want to know.

    • To get the very best endorsed form and signature from the Vicar, you need to show at least two years or more attendance to the weekend worship service with child and both parents, (Weekly encouraged) and show involvement with all three christian values of Time, Talent, & Finances. (see "Get Involved" in the Menu.)
    •  With our current criteria, you and your family need to start regularly attending church services from at least December/January two years before the admissions form is filled. (Your child will be about 2 years old. St Barts School has a reception class allowing admission to 4 year olds to start before they turn 5) The deadline for the admissions board is January. Don't start the last nusery year in September term and expect a glowing report of strong religious connection after only four months of church attendance. (A minimum of two years attendance is recorded from January to the January of the forms submission.)
    • Due to large numbers of families suddenly coming to London borough churches that are connected to outstanding Schools, some are having to redefine strong connection, with requests that parents are baptised and confirmed, have an attendance record of at least two years with 48 weeks out of each year. If Bart's church is put into this position in the future, we may need to re-evaluate what a "strong religious connection" means at our church. A strong connection can only be measured in comparison to other members of the church at that time. Consider this if you have a baby and are thinking a few years down the line. (Your family needs to attend regularly now.)
    • What if your partner doesn't to come to church, working sundays or wanting to avoid religion and thinking it hypocritical to go etc? Will that affect the form? Yes. The admissions board requests information based on attendance frequency of both Mother and Father, carer/guardian. This may impact on the strength of your application unless you can successfully explain what the mitigating circumstances are. (We want to encourage the whole "family" to support each other, coming to the service together. If Christianity and the school place is important enough to one parent and their child, it is reasonable for the other parent to join their family out of love and support.) 
    • Regular attendance and help with the church will not guarantee a place for your child as this is just one of many variables that is taken into consideration by the Wolverhampton admissions board. eg Distance to School from home.
      ​Placements are not decided by St Bartholomew's School or St Bart's Church.  
    • There are appeals every year and many parents are bitterly disappointed. Even if you have proof of good church commitment, and the vicar has written an essay for you, backing up this fact, there is a possibility you won't get a place for your child. We will stay with you through those tough times. Are you prepared to do the same with us should it all go wrong? (Will you put God first?)
    • Your initial motivation for attendance might be to get your child a school place." People will think I'm a hypocrite and just using the church". 
      People come to church for the first time for many reasons, funeral, marriage, baptism, or being part of the community, joining a  club or looking for answers to life's big questions. None are hypocritical.
      Our motivation is Jesus. Our hope for you, is by adopting a christian lifestyle, being around other christians, you can experience a closer, better family life in the community, and that with a little time, you will give yourself to God and follow Jesus, so you and your whole family's life will be fully satisfied, happy, fulfilled and blessed.
      We hope to offer you something of far greater value than a signature for a school place.

      Everyone needs to begin somewhere to explore their faith and St Bart's is the best place to do it. All we ask is that you build on your Christian values by helping us out a little with our day to day routines and learning about Jesus with the Start, Alpha or Living Faith course. Allow time to get to know God. This is your church and your family.

What does God say about commitment with attendance and helping each other? 

Demonstrating your strong religious connection is not a measure of your faith, it cannot show how much of a Christian you are. The criteria used on the form is simply a practical means to help parents help themselves.
However, as christians we are taught that church duties are important for our spiritual growth. Generally speaking, a person who shows their faith through their actions with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, "maybe" outwardly showing their belief in God. However, only God knows your heart and true motivation.
The teachings of Jesus Christ tells us that true belief in Him will cause a person to redirect their life, so God becomes their focus, and as a consequence that person will naturally exhibit "Good Works". To do the works ( i,e. helping and weekly church attendance) without the focus on God, may feel like nice thing to do, but dangerous ground when considering what constitutes God's "Salvation"  and its alternative.

In the Bible, Luke writes this:
Luke 3:8 "Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don't just say to each other, 'We're safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.' That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones."

To simply translate the above verse- with belief in Jesus Christ, we are to prove our faith with our actions . We can't just say "I'm safe, I'm a Christian". It means nothing, as there are many that claim to be Christian but never know God.
How can we know if that statement is the truth? We must come to church weekly  and learn about Jesus.
St Bart's is here to be used. Allow St Bart's to open up a path to God in your life.

Regular worship and doing practical deeds come hand in hand and is a lifetime commitment. To believe in Jesus and not show it practically is contrary to Christianity. Click here: "Why is faith without works dead?"

Final checklist:

Useful Links:

"I want to help with church life, I have a little time to spare, Show me a list of activities to be involved in"- Click Here
"I want to help keep the building standing! I would like to show my weekly commitment financially- Click Here

St Bartholomew's Primary School
Wolverhampton School Admissions
School Admission Applications