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Is there any way to call for a school to change its admissions policy?

(41 Posts)
peukpokicuzo Fri 10-Mar-17 08:08:34

I want to think about this now because by the time it is actually relevant to my family (ds is only 7) it will be too late to do anything about it.

The school in question is an academy in a city centre with an excellent academic reputation and excellent public transport links to every part of the city. Not surprisingly it is massively oversubscribed. It is an academy.

Its admissions policy has the following priorities:

Looked after children and those who have the school named on their ECHP (obviously, no prob with that)

Siblings of those currently at the school.

Everyone else, by lottery.

The problem is that this year, nearly 80% of the spaces were gone by the time the sibling places had been allocated. So any elder sibling or only child has an almost negligible chance of getting one of the tiny number of remaining places.

Sibling priority makes sense for primary schools - obviously when a parent has to deliver and collect their children at the school gate they can't be in two places at once. But for a senior school where pretty much every pupil (apart from those with additional challenges) arrives by bus unaccompanied by a parent - what justification is there for giving so many places to siblings?

I think this policy should be challenged but I don't know how - who decides and who has influence. Do challenges like this ever succeed?

Ihatethedailymail1 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:37:28

Do you only have one child?
Having two or more kids at different school means you have to plan two parents evening on two dates, two sports days, two this, two that and two the other. Learning about the policies and procedures of different schools can be a right pain. Just because the children may travel on their own, it isn't the only thing to consider.
They'll never change it, but the way. You are wasting your time.
Also, isn't distance a criteria?

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Fri 10-Mar-17 08:40:50

I tried this in one if our local girls schools.

I emailed the school governors with my points and they discussed it at a governors meeting. In the end they decided to stick with it but at least I tried. I don't even want DD to go there, I just wanted a choice. The school decided that it was better for the school to have interested families knowing all their girls can go there. Basically you get your first child in then move but all the sisters go, but this shows dedication and motivation...

So, get a letter together and send to the governors

The admissions criteria must be published for consultation every year. This would also be a good time to contact the school and out your points across. Look on their website for the consultation.

Could you organise other parents, might be better than being a line voice?

abbsisspartacus Fri 10-Mar-17 08:42:52

So are you saying 80% of the children are children in the care system?

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Fri 10-Mar-17 08:43:33

Plenty of siblings go to different schools at secondary level, especially if the only options are single sex schools.

They might never change it but only you can decide if you feel it's wasting your time to try. Personally I'd give it a go plus putting some thought into realistic other options.

lokisglowstickofdestiny1 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:47:00

You'd be better trying to lobby for the change with as many other prospective parents as possible rather than be a lone voice. Certainly schools do change their criteria, several in my area have moved to admit siblings only in catchment as priority. Siblings outside catchment have less priority than children with no sibling in catchment.

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Mar-17 08:49:32

80% siblings? Blimey- that's a lot! Was it an exceptional year?

AlexanderHamilton Fri 10-Mar-17 08:52:57

Ive got two children at two different schools. It is very challenging & only works as dh teaches in one of the schools. There are frequent clashes of events.

I don't know about other areas but there are only two single sex schools near to me & they are in the same town, one boys & one girls. They co-ordinate dates in ways that other schools would not.

Bluntness100 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:52:57

Are you sure about the 80 percent, that's exceptionally and unusually high.

This is normal policy for many schools and I think it makes sense for families. I also doubt you will change it. Because the parents with more than one kid will campaign against you at a min, and apparently there is a lot of them...😁

AlexanderHamilton Fri 10-Mar-17 08:54:41

My brother is in the situation that his DS may not get into the same school as his elder sister (she got priority because of her SEN). If he doesn't get in it will be a nightmare complicated by the eldests Sen.

InTheDessert Fri 10-Mar-17 08:57:23

I'm not in the UK. Quality school places are in massive demand. If you are offered a place, you grab it.
So, next door have 2 kids. One is at each of the 2 British schools here. Half term didn't align. Easter - one common week, with the second weeks being seperate. Summer - one kid finishes for the summer 4 weeks before their sibling. I assume there will be similar discrepancies for the start of next year.

So, I'd say aligned holidays would be of interest.

Also, a tiny proportion of parents volunteer for things. If secondary makes similar requests for assistance, and you have 2 kids at different schools, will you volunteer to help?

Whilst I think it is unfortunate, I think sibling link for in catchment or kids not given a choice should remain for secondary.

FormerlyFrikadela01 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:57:41

I actually think they've got it spot on. Giving everyone who doesn't meet the first two criteria an equal chance would surely provide a better mix of pupils rather than what happens in a lot of places where only those who can afford to live in catchment.

FormerlyFrikadela01 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:59:50

Oh and sibling priority just makes sense. Many parents struggle to organise things around school as it is, attempting to do it around 2 schools would be a right pain.

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Fri 10-Mar-17 09:00:32

There are still benefits at secondary age to having siblings at the same school. Same holidays and INSET days, hand down uniform if the same sex, same uniform supplier, same transport, same rules and policies, same method of communication, no clashes of parents meetings, sports days etc, more continuity with knowing teachers, systems etc. Every family with a child already at the school will have faced the same issue with their first child so it's not really unfair in that sense. I live in a town with two secondaries which are both very good and not oversubscribed, every single family I know (SNs apart) has sent all siblings to the same school.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 10-Mar-17 09:01:30

I guess that the problem is that it is a bit like the scenario where one child has a private education and the other one doesn't, it can lead to resentment within the family. The children are just 10/11, they don't have an adult's perspective.

80% does seem very high though. Is it a fairly new system - so could they still have a lot of children who got in a few years ago and be working through a bulge year type explosion in siblings? I would have thought that around 50% would be more normal in which case only taking 20% oldest/only children might work in your favour in a few years as then there might be fewer siblings. Having some sort of 'siblings must live closer than x miles or in catchment' only really works if there is a catchment. I would feel most sorry though for the children living next to a school like that whose numbers don't come up, and are probably further from other schools so don't get in on distance.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 10-Mar-17 09:01:39

Gosh yes I'd forgotten about the different half terms. This year they aligned, two years ago they didn't. This year my two have different Easter holidays.

bibbitybobbityyhat Fri 10-Mar-17 09:08:36

I agree. Siblings priority is unnecessary and indeed even damaging at secondary school ... it might be nice, and convenient, for some families but it is MASSIVELY unfair for everyone else. The sibling priority makes a mockery of the catchment area at my local secondary and is downright ridiculous at the school which admits by lottery ffs.

bibbitybobbityyhat Fri 10-Mar-17 09:10:34

"no clashes of parents meetings, sports days etc"

What, so your secondary does parents evenings for different years on the same night?

bibbitybobbityyhat Fri 10-Mar-17 09:11:57

My neighbour has 3 secondary aged children at 3 different schools. They manage fine.

tiggytape Fri 10-Mar-17 09:13:26

That's a very high % of places taken by siblings.
Are there special circumstances that explain this?
Did the school take numerous bulge classes in previous years or merge two schools leading to lots of children having sibling priority for example?

In terms of sibling links, this is a perfectly lawful admissions criteria to use so I doubt there is much room for objection there.
However, if there is some special reason that siblings get places and other local children can't then you might be able to raise any inherent unfairness. If for example some siblings were traveling 5+ miles to attend the school yet children 0.5 miles away are routinely rejected and have to travel a long way to other schools, you could raise the possibility of having "in-catchment" and "out of catchment" sibling categories with some local children prioritised over the not-at-all-local siblings.

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Fri 10-Mar-17 09:14:05

No, only one year per parents evening. But they wouldn't schedule two parents evenings for the same night, or a parents evening on the same night as a concert, whereas two separate schools could mean a concert at one on the same evening as a meeting at the other. Mine are at separate schools at the moment (yr6 and 8) , in different LAs due to SENs and will be separate for the duration now, I have had clash after clash of events, differing half terms, differing holidays, it is a PITA.

SoupDragon Fri 10-Mar-17 09:16:23

does your child have a younger sibling?

peukpokicuzo Fri 10-Mar-17 09:41:14

Interesting responses. Thanks. OK so I hadn't considered the effects of different half terms, holidays and inset days which which could indeed be a pain. Parents evenings and other events not so much because there is usually a different day for different year groups anyway. I guess sibling priority is also helpful for getting parents to emotionally invest in supporting a school and I see from the primary school situation that less than 5% of parents engage with the PTFA anyway so that's valid.

It hadn't occurred to me that we might benefit from the situation if the tiny number of eldest-children this year means fewer younger siblings in future years. That's interesting to consider but it would probably be most beneficial to families applying in 2 years' time rather than 3.

Oh and it looks like I did my maths a bit wrong - it's more like 73% of the places that are gone by the time it gets to random allocation to people who don't qualify under higher criteria. But there is no catchment area.

WhoKn0wsWhereTheTimeG0es Fri 10-Mar-17 10:01:25

I do think it's less fair if there's no catchment area. However you are right, if only 27% of the intake are eldest/only and say a third of those are only children, there will be fewer sibling entries in a couple of years time. It might be worth looking back a few years to see if there's any sort of cyclical pattern.

Bluntness100 Fri 10-Mar-17 10:45:49

Also I think to be fair, if you had two kids you're view may be very different, in that you also may want sibling priority and to get your kids to the same school. I know i would.

So I think it depends on your perspective,,one kid, limited places you think it's unfair, two kids, and you think it's totally fair as you don't want to be forced to two different schools.

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