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?

HoratiaLovesBabyJesus Sat 22-Dec-12 19:50:12

Ah, thanks Tiggy. I know someone got in on the "gits the whole school isn't full" rule so it must be one of the in-year children higher up.

Siblings in the same year, whether multiples or close pregnancies, is an odd exception though. Surely either a class is too big or it isn't. Twins don't count as one person! shock

HoratiaLovesBabyJesus Sat 22-Dec-12 19:50:45

gits = but shock blush

tiggytape Sat 22-Dec-12 19:55:49

Horatia - TAMBA campaigned for it for years and it was finally added to the Admissions Code this year.
It is pretty rare it has any affect though. It only applies for twin who are number 30 and 31 on a school's list.
If they are numbers 36 and 37 on the list, neither get will in
If they are numbers 16 and 17 on the list, then both get in as normal.
It is only for the very rare cases where the last house offered a place on distance criteria happens to contain twins and where they would otherwise be split up at separate schools unless this exception is made.

ReallyTired Sat 22-Dec-12 20:47:24

I think its a reasonable rule to allow 31 children in the case of twins or even 32 in the case of triplets! Most schools have a certain level of churn. I imagine that if a child leaves the reception class of 31 then that child is not replaced.

I hate to tell you that the reception class of your precious first born can be made 31 if the school has to take a local authority care kid.

I don't think that having 32 kids in reception is the end of the world. Especially if an additional TA is employed.

Pozzled Sat 22-Dec-12 20:53:02

OP, I used to agree with you that it would be best if children all attended their local school (except in exceptional circumstances!). But when we came to apply for DD1 we found that our 'local' school (300m away) is not, in fact, our priority admissions area school, which is about 1km away in another direction.

We had a really anxious wait, (made worse by the fact that the 'local' school we wanted had some strange admissions criteria and would actually have prioritized children much further away from us who weren't siblings and weren't in the school's priority area- a bizarre rule which has since changed).

It would be horrible to think we'd have to go through the wait again with DD2. So for us, the sibling rule means that we can actually get both DDs into our closest school.

RandomMess Sun 23-Dec-12 07:35:03

I think the demographics and admission criteria of where you live affect how you think/feel about this issue. I live in a densley populated area and admission is on distance not catchment area and so so so many people rent/buy temporarily to get the eldest in and then move away - so it's all down to money those who can afford it get their dc into a good school and then get to go and live in the nicest areas at the expense of others.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 23-Dec-12 07:53:50

The really unfair thing is that there aren't enough good schools in parts of the country such that all children can just go to their local school without so much angst

Gatorade Sun 23-Dec-12 08:02:45

Up thread someone asked how far away a family would need to move to lose sibling priority, I think one of my local primary schools has come up with a decent policy to address this.

The school doesn't have a defined catchement area but uses a 'nearest primary school' policy. Therefore siblings have priority if the school is their nearest school, but don't get priority if they are closer to an alternative primary school.

AbbyR1973 Sun 23-Dec-12 09:15:08

All of those merrily advocating for no choice (force parents to send children to their catchment school) presumably live well inside the catchment of a good school!
I wonder if you would feel the same if the catchment school was a failing school? Surely such a plan would make even more money for estate agents as it would've crucial to live next to the school. What about the small village schools like the excellent one my DS attends that absolutely depend on out of catchment
children for survival? What about if you send your child to a school because you liked the feel of it when it was only satisfactory but it then becomes outstanding and everyone else suddenly wants to go to? What about forcing children to leave a school they are settled in because their parents moved away albeit within reasonable travelling distance (maybe a young family have outgrown a small house, need extra space for a new baby or trying to improve their children's circumstances.) What about the single parent that would end up finding themselves travelling to try and take children to multiple schools? What about if you had an older child at a good school but found that under these marvellous new rules your other child had to go to a failing school?
No system is completely fair but the sibling rule is good for children because it helps to keep siblings together in the same school, which is the right thing to do.

PrideOfChanur Sun 23-Dec-12 09:31:50

We benefited from a sibling admission for DC2 - but when DD started school,at what wasn't our nearest school,her year was very undersubscribed with local children,and was "made up" with quite a few children living furthur away,who were then followed by their siblings.
But without the out of catchment children in the higher classes,the school would have suffered.
I do think at primary school different children from the same family in different schools is ridiculous,and the sibling rule makes sense - but at secondary school I don't think you can justify it at all.
It is particularly nonsensical in our area (Kent,Grammar schools etc) where no one is considering it as a factor at all for grammar school attendees of different genders,or in families where some DCs aren't at grammar schools and others are.As someone upthread said older children can be expected to get to school independantly.

RandomMess Sun 23-Dec-12 14:51:07

Gatorade I think that is the fairest sytem mentioned yet although again I feel if you haven't moved home then that could be harsh if you don't get your sibling place.

auntevil Sun 23-Dec-12 16:11:55

A system where sibling priority based on distance first, then local area then siblings out of area only works well when there are free spaces in all schools.
There has been statistics stated in the press that there used to be mobility of families that created free spaces in different areas for families when they moved. This is not happening at the rate that it used to. Add this to the increase in building homes, need for primary places etc and the system is shot to pieces.
Until there are enough school places, there will be no system that works fairly for all.

admission Sun 23-Dec-12 17:19:50

Having had some experience of "nearest school" criteria as suggested by Gatorade, I accept that this does have some attractions. However it can also have problems as I have seen in its practical operation.
Firstly there is the question over what is exactly your nearest school, is it the nearest community school, the nearest faith school or just the nearest school, no matter the sort of school? Parents tend to have firm views on this!
Secondly, there are some interesting problems over measuring what is the nearest school. Is that in the LA, because if so it almost certainly going against the admission code. To establish which is the nearest school what method is being used, is that straight line distance, nearest walking route or what. The one thing it needs to be is exactly the same as that used in the general admission criteria for the school. I have come across one where the LA uses post code to determine which is the nearest school and then nearest walking route for the actual admission criteria, that simply should not be happening.
There is also a very interesting problem for any schools that are near either the welsh or scottish border in applying this. What happens if the nearest school is in say Wales, not England, which can easily happen?

tiggytape Sun 23-Dec-12 17:51:17

That is very true admission. Also nearest school 'as the crow flies' (which is how most areas measure it) isn't so great if you happen to live close to a motorway / river / airfield or any other natural obstacle which the map assumes you can cross but which, in reality requires a 4 mile detour.

HoratiaLovesBabyJesus Sun 23-Dec-12 19:48:42

YY to nonsense crows.

At our old house our nearest school was a couple of hundred metres away, and the second nearest maybe 500m ... across a river and up a hill. The nearer one is vastly oversubscribed (one year children on the same cul de sac didn't get in) so the "nearest" available school is a good 45m walk or drive away, up hill and down dale, age 4...

auntevil Sun 23-Dec-12 19:51:18

I had to laugh tiggytape as our LA used the same 'as the crow flies' suggestion as to our nearest school as you have said. She was none too happy when I told her that it would be our nearest if I felt inclined to walk my 4 year old through a river each day grin

tiggytape Sun 23-Dec-12 21:32:56

That is the trouble with admission rules in oversubscribed areas. You have to have one rule that fits all - and it never does. There is no room for common sense or logic or special cases (only severe ones eg statements).

Closest school seems good until you realise this means 47 children per class with half of them expected to wade a river to get there. Siblings sounds logical until you realise a lot of people move 3 miles to away to a much bigger house as soon as child number 1 gets a school place. Catchment areas are good until again you realise that twice as many peopel are packed into a tiny area than the school can cater for.
And all criteria feel unfair when there are 60 or 90 or 200 more people wanting a place than can have one because of the birth rate and school shortages.

The only thing they can do is set rules with some knowledge of the local area and crack down to make sure they are fairly applied. The trouble we've seen though is academies make admission rules in isolation. They still have to be lawful ones but they can choose siblings first and no social/medical needs or they can choose distance as the only factor. If they all do different things (as they do here) it leaves some poor people with no hope of meeting any criteria at any school let alone a local one.

BieneMaja Mon 24-Dec-12 10:04:50

HUGE problem in this city too. Only going to get worse. Last year at the last minute they added an extra reception class (now 5 class intake), stating that if they hadnt, the approx 80m "catchment" (there isn't one) would drop to 500m mainly due to the aforementioned sibling problem. The problem with this is that now an extra 30 children potentially have siblings to start in the next years and the LEA have stated that there will not be another 5 class intake.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that the sibling rule has to change here.

To make it worse the infants has a linked junior which is easier to get in to. People finally get the oldest in to the school at year 3 and automatically get the younger into the infants.

No good all round but I can understand how it goes. The problem is that the people who do this so this because there the only alternative for where they have moved to is sending their children to the other side of the city.

All very depressing. To top it all we have 4 classes currently in yr1 who have nowhere to go for yr3.

Huge worry for those parents.

mam29 Mon 24-Dec-12 13:43:23

im stressing over next application sept 2014 start shes will be 5when she starts as our lea says

local sibling-ithin 2miles-yes we are
but in area of prime responsability-little map which we not on.
Takes us 15mins car. 30mins walk.
its our nearest coe but voluntry controlled so although all 3baptised coe has not influence.

I have to apply jan 2014 not sure if we can move by then.

make matters worse have 3rd who starts sept 2015 so dont want to be doing 3schools.

will try make 2nd choice close to eldests current school but thats oversubscribed aqnd has tiny catchment area.
3rd childs april so prepared to defer an wait list if need be.

dreading secondry application for eldest really is pot luck here .

siblings dont always provide golden ticket.

Bristol like london has severe shortge of spaces initailly city centre now silling out to suberbs. something like 300kids diodet get any place one year.

I do belive in choice though its what strives schools to improve and be good surly.

StarOfLightMcKings3 Sun 30-Dec-12 00:11:33

Tiggy, you're right about not being allowed to go over 30 without another qualified teacher. However, the definition of 'qualified teacher' is not clear cut and the Dept of Ed leave it up to individual schools.

admission Sun 30-Dec-12 23:13:51

The definition in relation to the infant class size regs is not for a qualified teacher but for a school teacher as defined by section 122 of the education act 2002 and the Education (School teachers' prescribed qualifications etc) order 2003 and subsequent amendments.
A school teacher can include head teachers, qualified teachers, overseas trained teachers, instructors with special qualifications or experience and student teachers. A school teacher cannot be teaching assistants, HLTAs or other support staff. However support staff may carry out "specified work" such as delivering lessons to pupils within infant classes in certain circumstances. The certain circumstances include the head teacher being satisfied over the skills of the support staff and that the work carried out must be in order to assist or support the work of a school teacher. Support staff must not be the main teacher for an infant group or used for the majority of the school week on a regular basis.
So yes it is up to individual school head teachers or more correctly the governing body to ensure that the infant class size regs are being adhered to and my reading of the regs from numerous instances of schools trying to bend the regs is that employing a TA for a term for two days a week is not meeting the infant class size regs. However the only people who can make a definitive judgement are the courts.

StarOfLightMcKings3 Sun 30-Dec-12 23:43:41

It's the 'instructors with special qualifications' that is the grey area afaik. No-one at the then dfes could give me an answer to whether a specific person with a specific qualification woukd satisfy this definition and concluded it is up to the HT, which kind of makes a mockery of the rules really. A TA could be that person if they had a 'special' qualification.

forevergreek Mon 31-Dec-12 10:44:21

the thing is some places are so oversubscribed, that you have to book your place so early. and then might move after. in central london we have had to accept and get places for children at a school from 12weeks old! that means we have 4/5 years to move elsewhere before school starts, hence everyone travelling all over the place to school

ByTheWay1 Mon 31-Dec-12 11:07:05

Our local primary follows the sibling rule, the secondary does not..... seems fair as the little ones being ferried by one parent don't have the stress of different schools, the older ones can get a bus or walk.

I have a Y6 and a Y7, so am waiting to hear if youngest got the same school as eldest, I would like it to be so, but no big hassle if not...

we are lucky here that Y6 was a low birth year - 20 in her class (was 23 in reception) - though it was muted that it meant that their Y1 class could take the older (oversubscribed) Reception year children as part of their class - which would have been "interesting"

Myliferocks Mon 31-Dec-12 11:16:10

When my DC have had more than 30 in their infants classes they have only had 1 qualified teacher and an HLTA with the odd parent volunteer occasionally.
Like I said further up the thread my 5 children spent more time in over 30 infants classes than under which is why I always laugh when people on mumsnet start quoting the legal aspect of the infant class size regulations.
It didn't affect my children's education but for it to have happened so often makes a bit of a mockery of the regulations.

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