Should families who have moved out of catchment have priority over others?
Is it fair that siblings should have priority over other children when allocating school places? If families move from the catchment area but keep their child in the same school should this mean their brother or sister be given a place over another child who lives closer?
Ealing Council is asking local people to give their views on important proposed changes to the way community schools allocate places when they are over subscribed.
Current admissions rules do not give priority to siblings of children already attending a school if their families have since moved out of the priority area, more commonly known as catchment. This has become a growing problem, because increased demand for school places has led to some families being unable to secure a place for a younger child at their older sibling’s school. Parents are then left with the difficult choice of managing their children’s attendance at different schools, or applying to move the older child to the same school as the younger child.
The council is exploring whether it would be fairer to allow siblings to attend the same school or whether local people feel that this would be too much of a disadvantage to children who may miss out on a place at their local, popular school as a result.
The council is also seeking to remove a criteria that gives priority to children with exceptional medical and social needs. This is to bring community schools in line with other schools in the borough. Exceptional medical and social needs would continue to be taken into account at the appeal stage if the change goes through.
Local people can give their views on the proposals by completing an online questionnaire at www.ealing.gov.uk/consultations until 9 January 2015.
Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Unfortunately, there will always be some children who will miss out on a place at a popular school, but we want our admissions system to be as fair as possible and support families, which is why we are proposing these changes. These suggestions are likely to divide opinion and we would like to hear the full range of views, so we are asking people to make their friends and neighbours aware of the consultation so as many people as possible take part.
“No decision has been made yet and we will be fully considering all of the responses before we do. If you feel passionately about this issue, I encourage you to go to our website and have your say. Your opinions count and are very much appreciated.”
The consultation closes on 9 January 2015. The decision on whether to change the admissions code will be announced in the spring.
If they proceed, the changes will be applied to families applying for the September 2016 primary school intake.
5th November 2014