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Bulge years and siblings

(10 Posts)
dillybert Thu 28-Jul-11 20:16:30


My daughter is in a bulge year at her primary school. It was our preferred school and she loves it.

We are just out of catchment, yards from the border, and it is usually very oversubscribed, and did not expect her to get in, but put it first anyway. The bulge year was a complete surprise.

So, what is the situation regarding her sibling? Technically, the published criteria go:

1. Statements, etc
2. Siblings in catchment
3. Kids in catchment
4. Siblings out of catchment
5. Everyone else

If the school is not usually able to offer places to everyone within catchment (group 3), do I take it that my other daughter will just not get in when it is her turn (as she is in group 4)? Or do special circumstances apply to bulge siblings (since it's not as if we've moved out of catchment between applying for DD1 and applying for DD2?)

Since, now I look, lots of local authorities use bulge years all the time, there must be a precedent for this.

Wondered if people have any experience of this.
Many thanks in advance.

admission Thu 28-Jul-11 21:16:56

My reaction is that in a normal year you would not have got in, so I don't think that you can expect anything but your other daughter to be treated as group4 and prepare as such for it.
One thing i could suggest that you do now rather than leave it till later is to formally approach the LA and make known your concerns and ask what their future policy will be on this, as it is obviously going to keep happening. Not sure they will do anything but worth a letter or two and if the worst happens it will be an interesting problem for an appeal panel, that the problem was raised with the LA and they decided not to do anything about it. Make sure you pitch the letter at a high level - I would suggest the Children Services Director - as a means of ensuring that nobody can says they were not aware.
I suspect that your best chance is that the school has the capacity to keep taking a bulge year

CovMum Thu 28-Jul-11 21:18:38

Hi, there was a case in our newspaper last year. The older child had got a place but the younger child didn't. Here they just follow the same criteria and could not offer the younger sibling a place.

I hope it works differently where you are.

CustardCake Thu 28-Jul-11 22:30:07

They follow the published criteria so if categories 1-3 use up all the places then children in category 4 won't get a place (unless they offer another bulge class that year)

Unfortunately there is no way around it (except moving into the catchment area and becoming placed in category 2 or instigating a change in the admission criteria so that all siblins get placed above all other children no matter where those other children live - I have no idea how successful you would be with that though).
Even in schools with no bulge classes, siblings don't always end up getting a place if catchment area or distance from school is listed above sibling priority and legally the LEA must follow the school's published criteria for offering places

PanelMember Sun 31-Jul-11 00:07:48

The bulge class has nothing to do with it. As has been said, the published admissions criteria will be applied in the usual way. Where admissions priorities differentiate between siblings in and out of catchment, it's a simple in/out criterion and the reasons for being out of catchment (or the distance outside catchment) don't enter into it.

It's a feature of bulge classes that they later create a bulge in sibling applications. What is likely to happen is that the bulge class will mean a higher than average number of siblings in category 2 and so fewer places to be filled in category 3 (and category 4, if there are still any places to be filled).

PirateDinosaur Sun 31-Jul-11 00:14:44

Your only real hope (assuming you can't afford to move into the catchment area and bump DD2 up into category 2) is that it's that school's turn to take a bulge class again the year your DD2 applies.

PanelMember Sun 31-Jul-11 00:37:22

I somehow missed Admission's post first time round.

By all means write to the director of children's services, but I don't see that your situation is in any way novel or unique. LEAs that make the distinction between in and out of catchment siblings have always been in the position whereby out of catchment siblings might not get a place if there are lots of in-catchment children (siblings or not). The bulge class may well mean that there are more families caught in the situation of not getting places for out-of-catchment siblings, but (presumably) the LEA has historically taken the view that it's not unreasonable for out-of-catchment siblings to be bottom of the priority list and possibly not get places. I can see the difficulty that that creates for families who are faced with having children in two schools, but I can also see the strength of the argument that catchment children should get priority and shouldn't be displaced by out of catchment siblings.

teacherwith2kids Sun 31-Jul-11 12:40:52

I can also see the strength of the argument that catchment children should get priority and shouldn't be displaced by out of catchment siblings.

As I live in an area where it is quite common for families to rent a house near to the local secondary for 6 months, get first child in, then move to a cheaper area much further away and take advantage of the previous 'any sibling' rule to give all their other children priority, I have to say I am a fan of the 'siblings in catchment only' priority system. In the last year of the 'old' system, the furthest sibling distance from school was 10 miles. The furthest non-sibling was 800 metres... which didn't feel hugely fair. I know it's hard if you're only justout of catchment and have been lucky with the first sibling - but it still feels fairer than the alternative.

PanelMember Sun 31-Jul-11 13:10:20

I think that is the nub of the problem, Teacher. I recognise that families in social housing (for example) may have no choice about moving out of catchment when they are rehoused, but I too live near a popular school where families adopt the 'Trojan horse' approach of getting the first child into the school and then moving away, using our LEA's 'any sibling' criterion to get places for younger siblings. It does create an unfairness when there are then very few places available to non-siblings and the distance at which places are awarded shrinks to a couple of hundred metres.

In the situation OP describes, it has always been the case that parents who accept a place in an out of catchment school for the oldest child are taking a gamble on whether they'll get places for siblings. I doubt the LEA is going to change its stance just because the creation of a bulge class has potentially put more families in this situation. I can't second-guess what would happen at any appeal, but my first instinct is that the situation, although unfortunate, wasn't so unreasonable that the decision to refuse a place to a younger sibling should be overturned.

NoseyNooNoo Mon 01-Aug-11 09:42:32

My local school is just 0.4miles away but my daughter didn't get in because there were only 6 non-sibling places due to a bulge year 2 years ago. I know no one in the village whose child is going so I think giving catchment children priority is important.

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