Proposed changes should make it easier for children to attend their local school
The council is consulting parents in Wandsworth on proposed changes to school admission rules. The public consultation will ask parents if they support moves to update the current arrangements that give preference to siblings when a school is oversubscribed.
The proposal would give greater priority to children who live closest to schools as opposed to ones who had brothers and sisters already at the school.
Education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said:
“We want local parents to tell us what they think would work best. There is growing concern among parents because they worry that their children will not be able to attend their nearest local community primary school because so many of the places are being automatically allocated to the siblings of children already there.
“In quite a significant number of cases the families of these siblings no longer live anywhere near the school. Some will have moved out of the area after their eldest child secured a place, safe in the knowledge that younger brothers or sisters will be given priority over children who live much closer.
“There have been cases recently where schools have had to offer almost all their places to siblings and this means that some local children are missing out. We don’t think this is fair which is why we are proposing a solution that we believe strikes a better balance.”
Under the existing admission arrangements priority for a school place is given to a younger sibling regardless of where they live.
The council is proposing that sibling priority should only apply in future to children who live within 800 metres of the school. Siblings residing further away would no longer have priority over children living closer.
Data from the 2014 round of admissions show that of 712 children who were offered a place at a community school on the basis of sibling priority, 174 lived more than 800 metres away from the school
If, after consultation, the change is agreed, the council will urge church schools and other state schools responsible for their own admissions, like academies and foundation schools, to consider similar changes.
To find out more about the proposal and to take part in the consultation parents can visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/admissionsconsultation. The consultation will run until Friday, October 31.
As part of wider plans to make the admission system fairer and ensure it better meets the needs of local parents, the council is also tightening up the rules that allow the use of temporary addesses to obtain a school place. There has been growing evidence that, despite the council’s rigorous checks on where people live, some are using this tactic to secure a place ahead of families who have lived in an area for a long time.
The address used on an application will have to be the family’s normal permanent address. Parents will not be able to move into a property on a temporary basis to increase their chances of gaining a school place. Nor will they be able to use a relative’s, a childminder’s or a business address.
If the family own a property but make their application from a different address, the council will assume that the second address is a temporary one. Similarly if a family is renting somewhere because their main home is being renovated, then the latter will be considered their permanent address. And if the family own more than one property additional checks will be carried out to determine which one is actually their main home.
Temporary addresses will only be considered if the applicants are able to prove they have sold or permanently moved out of their normal address.
Any changes to the admission rules would come into effect for the 2016/7 academic year.
October 8, 2014