Folks, thanks for all the feedback on this...it has been on my mind. I met another parent who was at the meeting in the corridor the other day, she started off with "That was a great meeting the other night, wasn't it?", I got as far as "Weeeellll, actually, I kinda thought that it..." before one of my kids appeared with a painting to show me. Priorities. "Listen, sure I'll talk to you again about it..."
I know that there are plenty of other non-religious parents there, both of the 'active' non-believer (i.e. don't go to mass, opt the kids out of religious activity - a few) and the 'passive' (non-believers but let the kids join in prayers, communion etc. - lots) but how many of them would stand up if the time came I don't know. Probably not many. I've spoken to a few of them, some of them were surprised that you could opt kids out, and almost all had had their kids christened for fear that they couldn't get into school otherwise.
There's an ET school not far away, when the eldest was due to start we heard awful stories about the academic standards or lack thereof at it, so decided against it. Have since heard that its actually fine. My eldest (9) is pretty shy, has awful trouble with even minor changes in routine, and has a good core group of friends in his class so changing is a last resort. The other lad's a joker and he'd bounce into it, but his bro would never forgive me.
I don't think I need to go down a legal route yet, but I appreciate the offer Tulip and will get in touch should it come up again. Feardorcha makes a good point about people (hopefully) being more reasonable if they hear stuff they don't like coming from someone that turns up for all the parent activities - the only reason I was asked to go to the meeting was that either myself or my wife are at every bloody thing that happens in there (bar the tea-making for the communion).
I did get the impression that a wider attempt was being made to drum up support for keeping the school patronage situation unchanged. Its something worth keeping an eye on, there are a lot of people who will just go with the flow and if they think there's no option but to support the status quo then they will, but if they see reasonable people opposing it they might join in.
Just thinking that maybe I should keep going along as a secret agent? "The name's O'Criosna - Harry O'Criosna...I like my altar wine shaken, not stirred..."