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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!)


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?

TheBuskersDog Wed 13-Feb-13 20:01:45

In our local authority siblings out of catchment are lower priority than children in catchment, but ahead of out of catchment with no siblings, this seems a fair way of doing things to me.

indyandlara Wed 13-Feb-13 19:39:49

I teach in Edinburgh. We take catchment children first, then siblings/ ASN requests then others. It is very common to request an out of catchment place in Edinburgh but is becoming increasingly difficult to secure one.

Frikadellen Wed 13-Feb-13 18:16:53

We moved 5 years ago when we did only 1 school localish had room for all 3 children. Our dc4 went into this school the year after under the sibling rule.
Had the rule been only sibling rule in nearest school we would not have qualified under that rule. However nearest school didn't have room for 2 of our children only 1.

Having said that the school we moved to have just proposed to change their admission to children in 4 named parish(CofE school) who are church goers (not how its said but how I say it) then children living in the 4 named parish then siblings before people outside.

People are up in arms but I am actually for this as I think it is fair a small (15 intake) local school gives priority to their local children. I also think it is fair that they give priority to CofE practicing children. (And personally I don't believe religion and schooling should be mixed) It is easy for me to say as I have no younger siblings waiting to go and I also live that close to the school we would still have got in on sibling rule.

Parents in the school are objecting but overall I think this is a fair way to do it and the school has to go on fair. In practice due to us living rually we will be talking 4-5 children a year so I suspect all siblings will get in anyway.

racmun Wed 13-Feb-13 15:30:07


I agree that the schools are often complicit in unfair admissions, and it is often a form of social selection.

It definitely makes like easier for the teachers and head teachers if they have a school of the 'right sort' of children.

The majority of us make choices about where we buy or rent a house. If you choose to move to a bigger house for which there is another closer school
then you should, I think, lose the sibling priority at the first school. Assuming a new family move into your old house why should a place effectively be reserved for your now 'non local' child to the detriment of the new children?
Presumably you bought your house to get your children in and can probably
sell it for a premium because it is near a good/outstanding school.

If you want to get your second child you'll have to just play the system and at least wait until they're in Before you move. It you choose not to wait, then it is just that-your choice. If you choose to have more children than you house can accommodate and have to move then again that is a choice you have made and others shouldn't be disadvantaged due to your life choices.

Would add though any changes should be bought in on a phased basis so people don't find the rug being pulled from under them.

Anyway I'm off to buy a lottery ticket in the hope that I'll be able to afford private school and forget all about sibling priority, nearest schools and catchment areas......if only!

mummytime Wed 13-Feb-13 10:28:15

Where I live, if we didn't have the sibling rule for my DC at secondary; then my younger children would be over lower preference than children who live 5/6 miles away rather than our nearly 2 miles. In some areas (rural and places like Surrey) the nearest available school for a child is very different from taking all the closest children. BTW I haven't moved, but have known people who did. I also knew people who moved into a rented house for the year of applications, to ensure they got into the "right" school. Oh and people who accepted a council house transfer "sight unseen" as it was in the right catchment.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Wed 13-Feb-13 10:10:53

I live 800m from one school (DS1's) and 1100m from another.

If I move 200m down the road (which is actually where I'd have to move for a bigger house) I'd be closer to the other school.

I'd still be local to both, though.

Basically, there is no system that works for everyone, there are winners and losers either way.

Startail Wed 13-Feb-13 09:46:20

Also it's quietly in the schools interest.

Parents who care that much which school their DCs go to are the sort of parents schools want.

They are likely to value education and get their DCs to work.

They may well be prepared to sit on the PTA or the Governors.

They are likely to be slightly better off than average and, on average, better off parents have brighter DCs.

If a school can admit a few more children of graduate parents by the back door, it can look better on the the SATs tables for no effort at all.

Also it only takes a small number of bright motivated DCs to motivate the teacher and encourage other children to try to.

Of course the poor DC living by the school might be all these things, but the school know Johnnies little brother is likely to be.

ariane5 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:24:11

No, not nearest school anymore. When dd1 got a place we lived a 5 min walk away but moved shortly after and its now a 10 min car journey away (well would be if I drove).

Ds1 has a place due to sibling link, so will dd2 hopefully so will ds2.

The situation with us is very complex though and it is the best school for dcs needs.Without the sibling link we would have huge difficulties getting dcs to varying schools.

racmun Wed 13-Feb-13 09:17:02

If they are still local and it's still the 'nearest school' with an intake then fair enough give the siblings priority. That's my point, but make sure all local children for who it is the nearest school with an intake have a chance over those that have moved away.

Unfortunately were I live quite a few people do move out to the surrounding villages or adjoining town which are/is considerably cheaper.

ariane5 Wed 13-Feb-13 09:05:51

I think the sibling rule is actually a good idea-I would not manage if I had to take dcs to different schools.

I am hoping the LA here keeps it in place for when I apply for dc4.

jellybeans Wed 13-Feb-13 01:14:38

Our area has scrapped priority for siblings out of catchment over catchment children with no sibs. Thank goodness as it was so unfair. Ridiculous that if you live next door to a school you could not attend it! Also encourages traffic chaos etc.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 12-Feb-13 23:54:53

Racmun, what would happen in your system to a family that had been allocated not-the-nearest school, maybe a second choice, for the oldest child?

Are there really lots and lots of people getting an elder child into a school and then moving a long way away, giving themselves a nightmare school run? Or are there people who get their eldest into a school and move half a mile away to a bigger house because they've got a new baby - they are still local!

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 12-Feb-13 23:51:21

Racmun, what would happen in your system to a family that had been allocated not-the-nearest school, maybe a second ch

racmun Tue 12-Feb-13 22:55:27

The sibling rule is unfair. The main reason it's advocated is to prevent parents having to do two or more different school drop offs. Unless your children are twins and therefore in the same school year, at some point you will have to travel to separate schools anyway.

In surrey the criteria is SEN, siblings, children for who it is the nearest school with an intake. In our local school 64% if places went to siblings.

I believe a fair compromise is to split the siblings, so the criteria would be SEN siblings for who it's the nearest school, children for who it's the nearest school, other siblings.

Least that way schools are kept for local children.

Startail Thu 07-Feb-13 00:18:33

Just as well because if I found myself with DDs at different schools they would just take it in turns to be late.

No one would notice my time keeping is famously bad already.

Startail Thu 07-Feb-13 00:16:10

So either you impose on friends or you pay?

That's not into entirely fair either.

Fortunately round here we are undersubscribed so we don't have a problem.

3birthdaybunnies Wed 06-Feb-13 12:41:07

Also bear in mind that the situation varies widely across the uk, in London and the surrounding commuter towns the problem is particularly acute, as it is in some of the other large cities, however in other areas there may be lots of good schools and sufficient spaces, or land to expand a school. It all depends on where she is moving to, but definitely worth warning her to do her research first.

angelsonhigh Wed 06-Feb-13 10:47:19

Thanks for replies. It sheds a little more light on the situation. I guess we are very spoilt here as we have relatively few people compared to the UK. UK is a great place to visit especially as it is our ancestoral home but I am always glad to return home to the open spaces and casual lifestyle.

3birthdaybunnies Wed 06-Feb-13 07:44:05

To answer your question, schools can take a set number of pupils (PAN), as a parent you can list the schools you want in order or preference, and each school will see how much you meet their criteria, usually they take children in care or with special educational needs which mean they need to be at that school (e.g. They use a wheelchair and the school is wheelchair accessible); then often siblings (although with some church schools attendance at church takes priority) and then distance. If there are 30 places and you are ranked 29th then you get a place, if you are 31st then they see whether you would get a place at your second or third choice.

If your DN's children are already of school age then it is easier in that they can go to anywhere which has a place, and/or put your name down on the waiting list for school(s) which you particularly want.

3birthdaybunnies Wed 06-Feb-13 07:23:03

The trouble is angels in some parts of England it is so madly overcrowded without the space to build new schools, that the 'turn up and enroll' system you have, or the guarantee at local school in. Scotland just couldn't work. When dd1 went to school (not London) there were 168 applicants for 30 spaces. If there were fewer differences between schools and parents were less aware, it might be slightly better, but still there are fewer spaces than children in some areas. So although it must be immensely frustrating to be given a school that you don't want which is nearly 2 miles away, how much more so if you need to get a sibling to school at the same time a mile in the other direction. Under those circumstances you would get no help with transport, the Education Welfare Officers would still say that both children had to be in school at the same time, and unless you had freind/family support it would be iimpossible.

As it is ds should be fine on distance or sibling, but I know others for whom the school is their nearest but would not get a place if it wasn't for the sibling link so could easily be in the above situation, and this when the oldest is just 6, so not able to get to school on their own.

angelsonhigh Wed 06-Feb-13 06:57:01

God knows, our school system in OZ isn't perfect but the British system sounds horrendous. I really cannot understand how it works.

My DN is moving to the UK later in the year and I don't think she has a clue how the school system works. I think she thinks it will be the same as here.

"This is where I want my DC to go to school, so that is where they will go".

allagory Sat 19-Jan-13 20:25:57

People here seem to be focussing very much on the practicalities of different schools but does anyone think it is generally bad policy to have inequalities between siblings?

Upsetting for a child not to get into the school of their choice, but so much more upsetting that they didn't get in, but their brother/sister did. Because they were "unlucky"? It seems so personal, so arbitrary, so unfair, so unequal. And they will hear every day what they were missing out on. They no doubt have to go to their sibling's school for concerts, school fetes, sports events. They will always be reminded of what they don't have.

We have a reception year that was exclusively siblings the year my son started school round here. Those children who didn't get in will never know what they missed and 4 years later I doubt many of them give it a second thought.

My nephew didn't get into his brother's excellent school (via a "no siblings in 6th form rule" and shrinking catchment area) and got assigned a not-so-good London comprehensive. He got mugged and beaten up in the first year. He was miserable. Once the elder brother had gone to uni they moved completely away, but can you imagine the dilemma if the gap had been different: move and disrupt exams for one, or let the younger one suffer at the hands of thugs?

DoodleNoo Wed 16-Jan-13 11:18:11

My eldest DD who was born in 2002 (a year of exceptionally low birthrate - look at the stats) was offered a place in a local C of E primary without us ever stepping over the threshold of the church: I didn't really dream she'd get a place but there were still spaces left even after all the church goers were allocated a place and they had to fill them, so they did it by distance alone. We got lucky. There's NO WAY nowadays we would ever get in with a first child and no church attendance: a surging birthrate and an outstanding Ofsted has seen to that. The church is simply crammed with young families every Sunday, all anxious to bag a place at the school.

But I still believe it is reasonable for a school to offer siblings a place even they now live out of catchment / no longer fill the criteria. Had there not been a sibling rule, we would have had a problem: how could I possibly have taken / collected younger DC to a different school at the same times?

I know this is a church school but the same would apply for a community primary in this area of London. Do remember that the current y6 were born in some of the lowest birthrate years ever on record in the country and schools weren't nearly so hard to get into. Not everyone has since wilfully moved out of catchment, rather that catchment area have shrunk beyond belief in those few years.

teacherwith2kids Mon 14-Jan-13 19:29:35

Startail: childminder. Common practice at the small rural schools that I know - either 'formal' childminders or 'informal' networks of mums / grannies / friends who do a lot of lift-swapping. We had an influx of children from a school around 4 miles away, many of whom had siblings still at the old school, and that network was how children got delivered and collected in practice.

bebanjo Mon 14-Jan-13 14:47:53

off at a tangent i know, BUT if the government went all out to inform every parent in the uk that they had the right to educate there children at home and there was information about all the different kinds of education, and home ed family's were given support instead of grief, maybe there would be places for those that WANT there children in school. many parents dont want there children in school but do not know they have a choice.

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