School admissions: warning over unfair priority to siblings

The Telegraph is reporting that the Office of the Schools Adjudicator has criticised the practice of awarding priority school places to siblings, saying the policy may harm other pupils living in the catchment area…

Popular schools should consider axing the system of priority places for siblings because it discriminates against many children in the local catchment area, according to the admissions watchdog.

Schools have been told to reassess entry policies that favour the brothers and sisters of existing pupils amid fears it stops places being allocated in an “open and fair way”.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator said the system unfairly prioritised families that moved miles away from a popular school but continued to access it because their first-born child had been admitted.

In its annual report, the regulator also criticised moves by some state primaries to automatically award reception places to children previously admitted to the school’s nursery.

It told the Government to rewrite national guidance to schools in England on the issue amid claims it discriminates against parents who choose to raise infants at home and those who struggle to pay nursery fees.

The comments come amid mounting concerns over access to the country’s most sought-after primary schools because of a surge in the birth rate combined with an influx of migrants in some areas…

In further conclusions, the report said:

• Some primaries failed to allow parents to enrol four-year-olds in reception places full-time – forcing children to undergo a part-time “induction period” – which contravened children’s rights to a full-time education;

• Several local councils complained that some schools failed to take their fair share of pupils expelled from other local schools for bad behaviour;

• Large numbers of school – particularly academies – published unclear admissions policies that left parents confused;

• Schools with sixth-forms failed to give proper consideration to pupils entering the school for first time at this stage.

More at:  School admissions: warning over unfair priority to siblings

Is this a sensible intervention from the Office of the Schools Adjudicator? Should schools now be discouraged from giving priority places to siblings? Please tell us what you think in the comments, on twitter and by taking part in our poll…  

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  1. cazzwebbo

    SchoolsImprove no. It makes sense. Can you imagine school run traffic increase if siblings had to attend different schools?!

  2. stephhannaford

    SchoolsImprove apart from logistical issues surely this is only a possibility if shortage of places is sorted first.

  3. trutheducation

    SchoolsImprove Some areas only give priority to siblings within catchement; those who move away risk place for younger child. Fairer?

  4. Rache76

    trutheducation SchoolsImprove much fairer. Even better ‘siblings for whom it’s their closest community school with a published PAN’

  5. trutheducation

    Rache76 SchoolsImprove Yes have seen that – occasionally. But also seeing more schools removing the “nearest” school element.

  6. trutheducation

    Rache76 SchoolsImprove Yes there are many admissions “oddities” in Surrey. Primary & secondary. Can be very unsettling for parents.

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