Schools and religion: Be aware! Many state schools are linked to the Church of England (CoE, i.e. Anglican) or the Roman Catholic church – these make up about one third of schools in the UK (and yes, they draw on tax money). There are two potential issues (or opportunities) here:
a) You may not want any sort of religious influence on your child. I don’t have any personal experience, but people tell me the CoE schools are often ‘not very religious’. Still, if your background is non-Christian, or staunchly atheist, you may not welcome the religious slant. Some schools will also strongly strongly encourage you and your children to attend services at the specific church the school is affiliated with.
b) You may need to demonstrate that you have been active in your church community, a ‘true believer’. This could involve a letter from the minister / priest of your current church confirming that you have been a regular church-goer. Not all church-affiliated schools require this. For example, here are the admissions criteria for a Catholic school in the Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames. See pages 3 and 4.
Regarding the school – church connection: Even ‘non-faith’ state schools have to teach Religious Education, in the Christian manner. You can ask for your child to not be included in these – however, this might make classroom life a little awkward for your child. Around Christmas, this all goes a bit crazy – my daughter (who attends a ‘non-faith’ state school) has been practicing for the Christmas show for weeks now. I’m not sure how much time they are devoting to this, but I get a lot of questions (“Mummy, what’s a saviour?”), and a lot of singing at home about Baby Jesus. I see now where the British enthusiasm for theatre and acting is born (every year in late Nov / early Dec!).