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losing sibling priority

(43 Posts)
iamthemusicman Sat 14-Jan-17 00:02:20

Does anyone have any experience of a school changing their admissions criteria and amending the sibling priority?

DS school is currently consulting on amending their criteria - siblings are currently number 2 (after LAC), they are proposing to amend this to siblings that live at the same address as when the sibling was admitted or now live nearer.

I wondered how closely do they look at previous addresses? Do they actually look in to it? Has anyone been declined a place for a sibling after moving??

I have a younger DS who wont need to start school for another 3 years yet but its a concern of mine because we were considering moving soon as we desperately need more space but i really don't want to lose his sibling priority.

Its the part about the same address or "nearer" that concerns me as we want to stay in the same area but if we moved to say the next street and lost out on a place because we were "further away" i would be gutted! Are they supposed to have a defined area... say live at the same address or (for example) within 3 miles??

prh47bridge Sat 14-Jan-17 01:00:33

If they are going to introduce this policy they will have to police it properly or they could get into all sorts of trouble. I haven't seen this specific policy before but I have seen a number of similar policies.

The school is not breaking any rules. They can have this policy if they want. However, if I were responding to the consultation I would suggest to them that it is a little draconian, meaning that someone who moves 50 yards further away loses sibling priority. They don't have to have a defined area but I think saying that category 2 is siblings living within a certain distance of the school would be better (and easier to police) than the policy they are proposing.

Astro55 Sat 14-Jan-17 01:07:23

Effectively they are saying if you buy into an area close to the school for a place and then move away - for example because house prices are cheaper further away - then you lose that right and the sibling is placed on distance

It may well make a difference to admittance - based on distance rather than siblings

I can see why they're doing hot - not sure how effective or rigorous it may be

Also as admittance is 3 years away you won't have any idea how many other families will live into the area -

Tough choice

Duckstar Sat 14-Jan-17 01:10:00

A lot of schools near me have changed the criteria from siblings to siblings in designated area. It's because people were renting houses in designated area to get eldest sibling in and then move away (or back to the house they actually own). Round here all schools have "designated areas though". The designated area is set by LEA. Have you checked your Council's website to see if they have something equivalent?

If not I agree a distance requirement would be more sensible. Although 3 miles, round here would literally be thousands of houses - may need to be smaller if they are trying to prevent people just renting a house to get a school place.

iamthemusicman Sat 14-Jan-17 01:41:43

Thanks everyone, the consultation gave an email address to respond with any concerns and I have pointed out the issues with not giving a defined area rather than just saying "further away", will be interesting to see if they come back to with anything.

Its an Academy if that makes any difference?

Blankscreen Sat 14-Jan-17 07:50:46

Our local junior school changed the sibling criteria s few years ago to siblings for who it's the nearest school. We're in Surrey so they use nearest school as opposed to defined catchments.

The school have obviously identified a problem with people getting one child in and then moving away. I don't really think it is that unreasonable. I appreciate you want more space but you will possibly need to stay put amd then move.

BrieAndChilli Sat 14-Jan-17 07:58:27

It depends where you live - in London 1 mile is a huge difference and there would be thousands of houses and probably even a couple of schools between you and the old house but if you live rurally then 1 mile may mean only a couple of houses and the school still being the nearest.
Our county have catchment areas although siblings outside catchment still get priority over 1st children inside catchment.
They did try to change the priority to siblings inside catchment, other children inside catchment then siblings outside catchment but after consultation didn't go through with it, our county is only rural towns and villages and the distances between schools is several miles and almost impossible to get children to more than 1 school

stillwantrachelshair Sat 14-Jan-17 08:14:19

But surely you will know if you have moved further away or not as you can measure from the door of your current property to school & the door of a possible new property to school?
At our school, siblings in catchment are second on the list but, if there were more siblings than the size of the class, if you got a place or not would be determined by distance as that is the determining factor in all categories. Out of catchment siblings are fourth on the list (after in catchment non siblings) and, again, it is determined by distance. I know in DD's year an out of catchment sibling didn't initially get a place in reception (she did after Easter) and the parents made a massive fuss but they chose to move five miles away so I didn't have any sympathy. The situation where I do have some sympathy is where an out of catchment family got lucky with their DC1 being born in a low birth rate year meaning they get a choice of schools and then subsequent DCs are born in higher birth rate years, a housing development goes up etc and, suddenly, DC1's school isn't a choice for subsequent DCs.

PossumInAPearTree Sat 14-Jan-17 08:35:01

One of the secondary schools near here has dropped sibling priority completely.

So it now goes ,

Looked after kids
Kids with statements

Which I think is a good thing. There are cases where a sibling is at the school and on a subsequent year their younger sibling hasn't got in even though they're at the same address.

prh47bridge Sat 14-Jan-17 10:38:34

Its an Academy if that makes any difference

That means the school is its own admission authority rather than the LA. So the school can set its own admission criteria provided they conform to the Admissions Code. In terms of how carefully they should check it makes no difference.

Their criteria must be clear and objective. You haven't posted the exact wording of their proposed policy. If they intend "further away" to mean exactly that - 0.001km further away and you miss out - that is fine, although it is rather draconian. If they mean, say, more than 0.5km further away they need to say so. What they should not do is make subjective judgements to allow some families who have moved further away to retain sibling priority whilst taking it away from others.

Helspopje Sat 14-Jan-17 10:47:15

I have to say I'm kind of in favour of a move like this.

The last admitted dostance at thec3 schools closest to us ranges from 20m to 100m and some years at least one ofvthem has no places for non sibs but then you see kids being driven in from the 4 corners of the universe having got in on sib spots then the family has moved miles away. Has meant some years there has been no local offer on offer day for kids between the very small bubbles around schools.

I think a little bit of flexibility on it might be sensible eg have moved more than x distance from the school or y further than the primary application address for eldest sib might be best/more reasonable.

Our school updates it's admission criteria every few years and is becomibg increasingly less in favour of the type of application that we will make but i understand the reasoning and it is fairer to the community as a whole so we have elected not to object.

BarbarianMum Sat 14-Jan-17 10:56:09

We have 2 sibling categories here. 'Siblings in catchment' which is the second highest and 'siblings out of catchment' which is one from the bottom. I think that's fair enough.

gabster33 Sat 14-Jan-17 11:35:24

Our new sibling policy is for those that start from this year onwards. So existing children's siblings still fall under old policy. And it's not move further than a 1000m radius. Seems fair. We also have a no renting on application / show proof of disposal of property- doesn't work as a policy if you move borough boundaries (out school is on the boundary so you can live either side).

Check out Wandsworth's policies if you want to give them information

iamthemusicman Sat 14-Jan-17 14:32:38

Thanks for all the views, I have to say I do understand where the school are coming from in terms of families moving away from the area but retaining sibling priority - it does seem unfair that people get one child in then move away but it's more the wording that bothers me and like bridge says, it seems rather draconian. It would be clearer to give a specific distance from the school that you must remain in.

What I forgot to say before is that they are also proposing to introduce as category 3 - children of staff, which then comes before category 4 (distance from school)... so in that case I do think removing the sibling priority for families moving out of the area is unfair if they let a teachers child who is out of the area join before a child who may just miss out on a place by distance...

Helspopje Sat 14-Jan-17 14:54:42

As their own admisdions authority they can put whatever they like in their policy within reason and as long as they go through the appropriate consultation process.

Ive seen kids of staff on admissions before elsewhere.

tethersend Sat 14-Jan-17 15:00:33

My LA introduced priority areas with in-area siblings as priority. Out of area siblings come below all other in-area children.

However, they have a caveat that all siblings of children admitted to the school before a certain date will be treated as in-area siblings, regardless of where they live.

Piratefairy78 Sat 14-Jan-17 16:16:32

Our LA changed everything a few years ago. I quite like it. It goes:
1. Looked after/in care 2. Ehcp 3. Siblings in catchment 4. Catchment 5. Children of staff 6. Siblings out of catchment 7. Out of catchment.

I may have used the wrong terms for 1&2 (and possibly the wrong order) but you get the idea. Also as I'm in a county where there's going to be huge influx of army personnel there's now an extra category for some schools to make sure there are places for their children.

Astro55 Sat 14-Jan-17 17:01:57

It would be clearer to give a specific distance from the school that you must remain in

But they can't - distance is subjective each year - depending on numbers

cantkeepawayforever Sat 14-Jan-17 17:27:45

I think the issue with the way it is worded is that if someone living next to the school moves 2 doors away from the school, they lose their priority - which is clearly daft, since I presume what they mean to do is to avoid families getting 1 child in then moving way out of the area.

Round here, this was dealt with by creaing a 'priority admissions area', and then admissions criteria that (after the LAC, SEN etc provisos) go:
- Sblings in priority admissions area
- Others in priority admissions area
- Siblings out of priority admissions area
- Others outside priority admissions area

In each case, where the school would be full if they admitted all children under that criterion, distance is the tie breaker.

So in the last few years, it has fluctuated a little, but effectively siblings who have remained within the priority admissions area have always been admitted. In one or two years, the very closest siblings out of the priority admissions area have got in, but moving out of the (small) area is a big risk as in most years they don't admit even all non-siblings who live ion the priority area.

It has totally removed the issue of families moving way out and still getting a sibling place, which used to be BIG as the PAA is very very expensive.

meditrina Sat 14-Jan-17 17:28:49

"But they can't - distance is subjective each year - depending on numbers"

Not really. The actual admissions footprint varies from year to year, of course. But setting a catchment happens all the time. The tie breaker, should it be needed for sibling-catchment applicants would probably still be distance. Being in catchment (*! England) is never a guarantee of a place, as the admissions footprint can be smaller than the defined catchment.

I think it makes sense to have a sibling catchment area to discourage families from moving far from the school once eldest is in.

(They could always give reserved right to sibling priority to those whose eldest child entered the school before the implementation of the new criteria - essentially an amnesty for those who moved before they could possibly have known it would affect their admissions category)

cantkeepawayforever Sat 14-Jan-17 17:31:14


I don't see any particular reason why sibling catchment / priority admissions are needs to be different from non-sibling priority admissions area, tbh? Unless there is a transitional process by which abuse of the sibling rule is gradually reduced?

SaltyMyDear Sat 14-Jan-17 17:35:27

The reason they take staff children so highly is to attract and restrain staff.

I need this climate you want that.

SaltyMyDear Sat 14-Jan-17 17:35:58

Sorry - in this climate you want that.

meditrina Sat 14-Jan-17 17:41:09

It could be the same, it can be different. You could have a siblings catchment and then no other catchment.

It all depends on local circumstances (and of course geography as catchments don't have to be a concentric circle, and could indeed not even be contiguous)

They just need to be clear and conform with the admissions code. And it's desirable they they suit local circumstances and have a reasonable measure of community support - which is why any proposed changes must go out for timely formal consultation.

bearsnumberonefan Sat 14-Jan-17 17:46:12

Our LA have this policy, and yes I do know of a couple of people who didn't initially get the sibling into the same school however they did eventually on appeal. It's not guaranteed though.

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