The Sibling Rule

(104 Posts)
knitcorner Thu 20-Dec-12 15:49:48

It's unfair right?

Primary schools should be for local kids not for those with older brothers and sisters who used to live in the area (or rented to get the school place) and are now driven to and from school, creating a 3.15 rush hour.

I just heard that my local school (700m away, not a cat in hells chance of getting a place) has 40% of pupils who live more than 1km away (ie somewhere much leafier and greener than where we live!)

40%!!

Surely it is fairer that if you move out of a catchment area, you go to your local school? That's how it works in Scotland, so why have we got different rules down here?

anothercuppaplease Thu 20-Dec-12 15:53:12

Yes it is unfair, but what is more unfair are families with two or three children who are in different schools because the older sibling got in and the younger one didn't. The family didn't move. It's not a faith school. It's just a local school that was so so oversubscribed that younger siblings didn't get a place even if they are local and haven't moved. That is unfair. And the youngest child was left with NO school place at all.

knitcorner Thu 20-Dec-12 15:56:39

Yep, that is also v unfair but would be addressed by the Scottish system of having fixed catchment areas. All the siblings would automatically be offered a place at the same school.

Has anyone ever challenged the rule?

anothercuppaplease Thu 20-Dec-12 16:00:14

No the local council decided in all their wisdom to add one more child in all the receptions classes throughout the borough, taking all the R classes to 31 children. The boy in question was assigned to the school where my children go (CoE school), and then the family put their other children on the waiting list at that school and eventually got places for all three children there.

OvOinAManger Thu 20-Dec-12 16:01:02

In Scotland you can apply for out of catchment schools. It's just a lot more unusual than in England.

I'm just outside of Edinburgh and my 8 year old goes to an out of catchment school. We didn't like the Head of our nearest school so applied for the next nearest. I've just applied for a P1 place for my 5 year old for next August and am hoping the siblings rule will ensure him a place. grin

But I don't feel guilty about it as like I say it's uncommon here so there's no huge list of locals that can't get into their nearest school.

anothercuppaplease Thu 20-Dec-12 16:13:35

Kitcorner, a lot of unfair aspects of school place allocations come out when there is a desparate shortage of places period. The rules become unworkable and unfair. Up to 4 years ago, one average school in our local area would accept children from a few kms away (in London). There were always spaces at that school, it was popular, a good school, but never full or oversubscribed. They received an outstanding ofsted report and now, everyone, and I mean everyone locally is trying to get their child in there but siblings from further out get the places. Having said that, all, all our local schools are oversubscribed and last year, there were still 42 children over the age of 5 that didn't have a school place at all, even after the class sizes were increased to 31 for reception.

Myliferocks Thu 20-Dec-12 16:20:46

Where we live the over subscription criteria is:

Looked after children/ statemented children
Siblings living in catchment
Children living in catchment
Siblings living out of catchment
Children living out of catchment.

ReallyTired England Thu 20-Dec-12 16:25:32

I think its fair to have a sibling rule for primary otherwise the logistics of having two children at different schools would be a nightmare. I agree its silly when people drive miles to a school in an urban area.

knitcorner Thu 20-Dec-12 16:26:18

mylife does your school actually HAVE a catchment?

Ours don't at all, so Siblings get all the places at the half decent schools (ie any school that isn't in Special Measures) no matter where they live.

knitcorner Thu 20-Dec-12 16:28:24

reallytired yes I don't advocate sending parents to two seperate schools every morning, I'm saying that both (or all) children should go to their closest local school.

Estate agents make a fortune out of this racket!

Arithmeticulous Thu 20-Dec-12 16:29:00

What would you do with the younger siblings of the children that get given a place at a school they didn't want that isn't their closest, because their closest was oversubscribed/they moved into the area - the siblings are "out of area" but not because the parents have moved.

redskyatnight Thu 20-Dec-12 17:01:22

We have the same oversubscription rules as mylife - and defined catchment areas. Maybe actually defining catchments is the answer? (which you'd need to do for the Scottish system to work in England anyway).

Myliferocks Thu 20-Dec-12 17:07:33

knitcorner yes where we live has actual defined catchment areas.

vess Thu 20-Dec-12 17:58:38

Around here schools have catchments and kids in catchment have priority over siblings out of catchment.
DD1 goes to a school we're not in catchment for, but still is local. It's a small school, so DD2 may not get a place when that time comes. I'd rather deal with that than keep DD1 at the nearest school where she wasn't happy.

Suzieismyname Thu 20-Dec-12 18:08:06

we're the same as mylife. If you're a sibling out of catchment you're below anyone in catchment.
My neighbour was in the situation that Arithmeticulous describes and had a few stressful months waiting to find out if her youngest had got into the same school (he did).
There is no completely fair system that suits everyone.

NotAnotherPackedLunch Thu 20-Dec-12 18:18:46

Siblings not having priority when they live a distance from the school is not always fair.

Sometimes an eldest sibling won't get a place in their closest school, but instead will have to take a place in whichever of the Borough's schools have a bulge class. There's no way it would be fair to not allow these families to get all their children in the same school, just because they didn't get their first child into their first choice nearest school. Things are already awkward enough for them not being able to be at the local school without having children at different schools.

HoratiaLovesBabyJesus Thu 20-Dec-12 18:21:15

The year before we moved, our "catchment" school had such a large sibling year that even siblings on the same cul-de-sac as the school didn't get in.

It's disingenuous to say all children should go to their nearest school - having that much flexibility in class sizes is too inefficient for staff costs, building occupancy and other overheads.

bubbles1231 Thu 20-Dec-12 18:22:17

In Scotland you can put in a placing request to send your children to an out of catchment school, but they will only take you if they have room and you can give good reason to want to go. Priority always goes to local children.

bubbles1231 Thu 20-Dec-12 18:25:21

Re the class size thing- the council will have record of preschoolers and under, living in the area from birth, so they can reasonably predict how many children will need to attend and plan accordingly.

tiggytape Thu 20-Dec-12 18:50:16

bubbles1231 - that may be the case but they can't build schools fast enough no matter how many children they know are coming through the system.
By 2014 in London alone there will be 70,000 more children than places and by 2015 it will be 90,000 places short!!

Knowing this in advance is no help at all unless someone is going to very quickly build an awful lot of schools (which some areas are doing but not all areas have space / money to achieve)

XBenedict Thu 20-Dec-12 18:54:36

I think there are so many different circumstances that affect where children go to school that it would be unfair to remove the sibling rule (although the sibling rule is way down the list in DC's school).

We moved every 2 years until few years ago (military family) and on our final move the council couldn't provide places for my DCs in the same school in our home town. They said it was up to me to find a school that could take them both, so I did in a neighbouring town. We are happy with the school, DCs ver happy with the school but DD is due to start school in Sept and I have my fingers crossed she will get a place because if she doesn't I am screwed as far as the school run is concerned.

bubbles1231 Thu 20-Dec-12 18:59:06

tiggy what a nightmare!! It must be really stressful not knowing where your children will be educated

tiggytape Thu 20-Dec-12 19:00:33

Oversubscription policies are always unfair on someone:
If you prioritise siblings over locals then people living 700m away from their nearest school fail to get in when people from 3 miles away are happily driving there everyday to drop off tow kids
If you prioritise in-catchment siblings over out-of-catchment siblings then lots of families cannot move for work or more room without messing up childcare and education for their youngest
If you prioritise locals over siblings then people who fail to get their local school for their first child face a double whammy of then having younger siblings in a totally different school.

The trouble is, with the number of children born every year since 2008 soaring, schools that once took most people who applied are instead turning away most applicants and the scramble for places has led to mad situations like not being allocated local school or any school at all. This has created a lot of ill feeling about how schools select children and how parents deal with where once, most people could get a place so didn’t mind about where other applicants lived / how they benefited from sibling links.

The 90,000 shortage is for London alone - the rest of the country has pockets that are equally bad and there is basically no fair way to tell so many applicants that they haven't a hope of their chosen school or even a local school

Izzyschangelingisarriving Thu 20-Dec-12 19:04:14

I send my children to a school miles away for deeply personal reasons.

I wouldn't be prepared to ddivulge them to another parent.

It costs a fortune, takes ages and is a complete pain - but it is necessary.

If I could odd move but we can't so thesis the next best thing.

tiggytape Thu 20-Dec-12 19:04:24

bubbles1231 - it is very stressful indeed and the situation is expected to start affecting secondary schools from 2014/15 too. In many areas, it is a real mess and a big headache for parents (and LAs too I imagine). I think the reason there is so little publicity about it is that, until you have a child that age, you just don't realise how bad it has got.

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