Primary admission frustration/unfairness

(33 Posts)
ima29er Sun 28-Jun-15 17:35:00

We have recently had new neighbours

They are lovely people with lovely kids
One kid is in year 2 at the highest performing state school in the city with their youngest about to start reception in September

This school is so oversubscribed that our friend who lives 50m from the gates was denied entry for her son this year, she thinks the main reason is that younger sibs of established kids get priority over those who are geographically nearer and it was just tough luck. The school they were given performs very badly (on paper) and is a hellish journey by car and impossible on foot or public transport.

It does seem rather harsh to me that my neighbour who to be fair legitimately lived in catchment is able to then move away but still keep her kids in the "good" school whilst my friend who lives practically next door has to travel 3 miles.

Is this normal or acceptable?

The local primary for our postcode is awful, house prices reflect this and we moved here in full knowledge with a modest slush fund to send our own kids to a private school

Ohh and for some spice my neighbour is a parent governor of the good school......

KohINoorPencil Sun 28-Jun-15 18:22:40

The system isn't great- but without the sibling rule, families could be trying to coordinate drop offs to two or three different schools.

This school is so oversubscribed that our friend who lives 50m from the gates was denied entry for her son this year

50m? Did they fill out the form correctly? Or do they live 50m from the side gate and 600m from the LA's main gate?

karbonfootprint Sun 28-Jun-15 18:24:34

3 miles isn't impossible on foot. Why isn't it possible by public transport?

Mintyy Sun 28-Jun-15 18:28:07

Some schools are changing their admissions to help address this, so that siblings do not get automatic priority over everyone else on the waiting list. I know this doesn't help your friend, but, yes, it is unfair.

3littlefrogs Sun 28-Jun-15 18:31:38

So - the alternative is that families with more than one child will have to be prepared to get their DC to different schools at the same time each morning, then collect them from their respective schools at the same time each evening. That would be very stressful and difficult.

If you happen to need to move house for any reason, even if it is only 3 miles away, you would need to pull your children out of their school and reapply elsewhere.

It is extremely difficult to get a place in a school if your child is older than reception age. I think that would also be very difficult TBH.

What we really need is a greater number of good schools.

Mintyy Sun 28-Jun-15 18:37:51

If you move away from the catchment of your primary school then, yes, you could face the same admissions process as anyone else who moves. Three miles is a very long way for a primary school aged child to travel - suggests it will have to be done by car which is of course a bad thing.

Hulababy Sun 28-Jun-15 19:16:43

Sheffield have addressed this somewhat recently. The admissions is now:

SEN
Looked After
Catchment area with sibling
Catchment area
Sibling (includes step) who usually resides at same address
Other

tethersend Sun 28-Jun-15 19:51:44

Whilst many LAs, including mine (Tower Hamlets), have introduced criteria to stop families moving away from the local area, is the sibling rule in your area any more unfair than you having a modest slush fund to send your own kids to a private school whilst those who cannot afford to must put up with the 'awful' local primary?

Not targeting you specifically OP, you do what's right for your family; but the problem here is a systemic one. The sibling rule is just a symptom of a greater malaise- there are not enough school places.

HighOverTheFenceLeapsSunnyJim Sun 28-Jun-15 19:53:23

My area is the same as Hulababy. Seems fair to me.

NynaevesSister Mon 29-Jun-15 06:13:10

It is a tough one. Around here a lot if people are in social housing. It hardly seems fair if the council rehoused you out of catchment that you then can't get your kids into the same school. And there has been a lot if families that I know in that position as they need to move for more (or less) bedrooms/housing estates being redeveloped etc.

Bunnyjo Mon 29-Jun-15 08:05:12

I don't really see the problem. People will lose out each year and is it possible that your neighbour is still in catchment, albeit further away? Your neighbour being a parent governor does not add any spice; it is completely irrelevant, to be honest.

Our LA has a priority system similar to Hulababy. It goes:

LAC
Catchment with Sibling
Siblings of Children who were directed to the school by the LA because their 3 choices were oversubscribed (which I think is a good thing, otherwise parents risk being penalised twice).
Catchment Children.
Out of Catchment Siblings.
Out of Catchment Children.

Bear in mind that many schools - academies, free schools, VA etc - actually set their own admission criteria. I know of a Roman Catholic school in our nearest town that prioritises all RC children over non RC children - so a RC LAC is category 1 and a Non RC LAC is category 5.

3asAbird Mon 29-Jun-15 08:51:22

I have concluded there's very little fairness in school admission

Our local authority is

Children in care
Local siblings so those within tiny expensive apr all flats a s mansions nothing in between.
Children within apr

Any remaining spaces children outside apr.

School being on county border means kidd from other county get places over my kids who are residents in our county and we live a crazy 1.046miles away our school has defined catchment that weirdly includes an area 1.3 miles away who jow have their own primary.

Also not entirely clear but think mod now have some priority and we have lots mod local as large mod base.

I have failed to get 2 younger siblings in 2 years in row. Normally lots movement at our school.
with do we been no 2 most if year we know who no 1 is they live in another county accepted school within their county and are happy so we no 1 but have moved up and son if family moves next door to school we get bumped.

One mum did 2 intake rented flat opposite school 6months council said thats fine as long as she lived in it which she did and moved back over summer.

Others have lied over addresses.

Rest of schools until last sept had no apr to be a local sibling you have to live within 2miles this means children outside apr with no siblings get priority over non local siblings which feel is vastly unfair.

Neighbouring county gives sibling link everyone so we applied for couple if their schools.

Dd2started 3rd preference school last week and do has a plc at same school but he has sen and that schools inappropriate for his needs and they turned down his ehcp plan so he can't get alternative specialist provisions either.

We have no educate Need category on primary admissions.

Dfe missed most reception year she's bee at nursery ans home ed.

Loads leave at juniors as they use the primary as glorified pre prep school so schools not full year 1 had 4spaces.
The intakes 20 a ear no one has left reception.

We honestly felt we would get space by Christmas at one if 5 schools we on waitlist but we dident perhaps we just unlucky.

Have no regrets about Turning down allocated school it was 2miles from house and wrong direction for else school would have been 3 mile round trip minis car each day and not on bus route.

We private rent so moved after ja. 15th and could not change address as would have been late application.

Many people I know private rent have move all time.

Lots families live in cramped flats want to move buy trapped by apr.

Social housing is minimal and rental buying costs in the city are expensive.
It's just way if rationing places.
The council know they don't have enough as surplus in wrong places and building loads if new housing.

At end if day all you need is new housing estate built nearer to school that where you live then you find you done out of 3 nearest schools and the 3rd ones crap and roman Catholic.

I'm. Glad we moved as old estate was black hole.
People allocated school not even built yet this year been nasty shock many families .
We one if 5 split siblings that I know of.

told local counciller defined aprs are socio and economically discriminating makes it easier wealthier parents buy good schools in same way they can can afford private.

It's creates middle class ghettos and people discuss how latest outstanding ofsted will boost their values of house how lucky they are and how sad they feel for children that don't get that school so parent's who live close have travel miles to lesser schools.

my childcare costs to do 2schools from. Sept are 2000 a year. As 200 a month for breckfast and afterschool club I can't be 2 places at same time.

It's a mess.

bingandflop Mon 29-Jun-15 09:37:50

I disagree that a 4 year old can walk 3 miles tbh. My daughter is starting school in September. It is 2.5 miles away and I wouldn't dream of making her walk it

Heels99 Mon 29-Jun-15 09:43:27

In our area, the sibling link only applies if it is your nearest school. If you move you lose the sibling link. There is another category for siblings for whom it is not their nearest school but it is further down the admissions list.
That doesn't seem to apply where op is.

Op the parent being a governor has no relation to admission.

If your friend is really 50m from gates she will likely be very high on waiting list.

DeeWe Mon 29-Jun-15 10:47:09

The thing is though, she may not have got any school nearer for her year 2 children if she'd wanted it. She may have tried to move them to a more local school, but found them full.

I have had 2 or 3 schools to get to since dd2 started school. We had 2 years with 3 schools. (we have infant junior separately).
This has meant things like (if walking) fetching the children from infant and juniors takes roughly 90 minute round trip. The juniors is about 20 minutes walk from the infants.
This also meant that before my reception age child got to school she had walked over an hour to take dd1 to school (leaving her early as they start at the same time) and also had a similar walk at the end of the day.
There's also things clashing, and two summer fairs, two sports' days etc despite most of the children go from the infants to the juniors (at least 95% every year) there are always times you have to make your decision between them.

I imagine that's worse if there isn't a general link between them.
There's also going to be extra costs-even if you are lucky there will be a different uniform which can't be passed down, but you've also got two summer/Christmas fairs, extra transport costs, possibly needing to use before/after school care due to timing etc.

I think as a general rule the sibling rule is fair enough, and I speak as one who could have missed out as my dc are spaced so the sibling link doesn't apply at each school as one has left by the time the next applies.

catslife Mon 29-Jun-15 11:30:18

Agree that the sibling rule in the OPs LEA may be seen as unfair if dcs living close to a popular school miss out on places. It sounds as if in this case nearly all the places must have been allocated to siblings.
However not all families who move out of a catchment area choose or plan to do so - some people living in rented accommodation may have to move as their landlords are selling the house or others may be rehoused by the council and a catchment sibling first policy can also be unfair as well.

dixiechick1975 Mon 29-Jun-15 13:13:20

I think a lot are getting rid of sibling priority to avoid the scenario of family moving into catchment to get DC 1 in then moving out but still taking places for DC 2 and 3.

Seems fair to me to prioritise proximity (after Statemented/looked after).

Yes some will end up with DC in 2 schools but less daft than all the places being taken by out of catchment siblings and all the nearby kids having to drive/bus/long walk. DC 1 can apply to DC 2 school and by yr 3 when infant class size not apply should get a place.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 29-Jun-15 13:21:16

Where I live the order is:-

1. LAC
2. Catchment
3. SEN / Social needs etc
4. Siblings
5. Distance

In the event of a tie then the next class down counts. So your friend (assuming she is catchment) will come above your new neighbours who are siblings.

I think that this is a pretty fair to do it. Generally - as long as you don't move - then once you have one child in the you should get the rest in.

prh47bridge Mon 29-Jun-15 14:03:49

Your neighbours' children don't lose their places at a school just because they move. It is illegal for a place to be removed for this reason. Provided they can still get them to and from school they can keep them there. Some admission authorities will give lower priority for admissions to siblings if the family has moved away since the older child got a place.

Micah Mon 29-Jun-15 14:10:12

Btw, I had to look up the definition of "slush fund", as it's not something I have or know about smile

DEFINITION of 'Slush Fund' Money earmarked for a loosely defined, but legitimate, purpose that is instead surreptitiously used for an illegitimate purpose. The term "slush fund" indicates a fraudulent use of money.

tiggytape Mon 29-Jun-15 16:58:56

Is this normal or acceptable?
Yes and yes. In many schools this is the norm and is considered acceptable.
Otherwise what happens to families living near a good school for 10 years when their landlord kicks them out to sell the house? Or families who are made redundant and are forced to downsize? Or families living in a flat that they outgrow?

Some schools try to balance the unfairness to local children by saying that any move over 2 miles or so from the address they orignally applied from won't qualify for the sibling priority. Even then, in densely populated cities, this may not help much.

Some schools go further and give all local children priority over all siblings which is a nightmare for parents who never moved house and whose older child got in when the school was rubbish and nobody else applied. All of a sudden, the school becomes popular (or they build houses closer to the school) and that family are stuck with 2 school runs every morning even though they never moved house at all.

Hulababy Mon 29-Jun-15 17:47:13

Not all definitions include the fraudulent bit; it may well have been used in that sense previously, but more common day use is more along the lines of 1B

1. A fund raised for undesignated purposes, especially:
a. A fund raised by a group for corrupt practices, such as bribery or graft.
b. A fund used by a group, as for entertainment.

2. Money formerly raised by the sale of garbage from a warship to buy small items of luxury for the crew.

ReallyTired Mon 29-Jun-15 20:52:18

"It does seem rather harsh to me that my neighbour who to be fair legitimately lived in catchment is able to then move away but still keep her kids in the "good" school whilst my friend who lives practically next door has to travel 3 miles."

Selection by postcode is effectively selection by bank balance. It is unfair that any child has to attend a bad school. There is an arguement for giving children from low income families priority for good schoo places. Rich children suffer less for going to an inadequate school.

I expect that your friend who the child at the good school in the city is unable to get her child and sibling into the good school on her doorstep. In the past there were far more school places. Having two children at different schools is a logistical nightmare.If we increased the school places then there would be much needed flexiblity in the system.

zoemaguire Mon 29-Jun-15 21:04:55

Tiggytape, yes! We are in that exact position. DD got into next-but-one local school a few years ago (we are out of catchment by only one street). Chances of toddler dd2 getting in are diminishing year by year as building frenzy goes on locally, along with insane baby boom. If we had moved two miles away, fine, remove the sibling link. But as you say, we haven't budged, and have no intention of moving! So we are likely looking at two school runs miles apart. It is a rubbish system.

tiggytape Mon 29-Jun-15 22:48:49

There is an arguement for giving children from low income families priority for good schoo places
That option exists. Admissions authorities are forbidden from asking about or making judgements based on parental income but they are allowed to use the Pupil Premium definition (which includes households on extremely low incomes) when giving priority for school places. Some grammar schools for example have started to do this - giving priority to Pupil Premium pupils who pass the test before other pupils who pass with perhaps 1 or 2 points more.

zoemaguire - Many people in parts of London are also in that exact same position. They got a place at the closest primary school that would take them a few years back but worry their other childen won't get in and they'll have to do 2 school runs. Either more local people who used to shun the school now apply or the council approves 200 new homes built near to the school and suddenly, without the sibling link, they'd have no hope of their younger child getting a place. And the baby boom adds to the increased competition too - at some schools even with sibling priority not all of the siblings get a place (and of course no local children get in either)
They haven't moved house or gamed the system in any way but could still end in a really difficult position.

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