Schools urged to scrap ‘unfair’ admissions rule for siblings

The practice of accepting siblings of children already attending schools is restricting choice for the eldest child and has angered parents' groups

Education Editor

Schools should think twice about giving top priority for places to the younger siblings of pupils who already attend the school, the admissions watchdog has suggested.

The intervention last night provoked a hostile response from parents’ groups, who claim it is impossible for mothers and fathers to deliver two children to different schools on time every morning.

The Government’s school admission watchdog, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, said the practice is restricting choice for first-born children of other families.

She claims in her second annual report that the issue is exacerbated by the shortage of primary school places in the wake of the current bulge in the birth rate – which means schools need to find an extra 256,000 places for pupils next year.

“Where a primary school, for example, becomes its own admission authority (ie becomes an academy) and the decides to give priority to all siblings whether living in or out of the catchment, there is a danger that first-born or children new to the area will not gain a place at the school, their catchment school, nor will they have priority for any other catchment-area school,” she wrote.

“Objections concerning priority for siblings also relate to younger siblings retaining priority for a popular and oversubscribed school when a family moves a significant distance away from the school resulting in those new to the area, or first-born children being unable to have a place because siblings, wherever they live, retain priority.

“The advantages for one family of keeping siblings at the same, popular school lead to disadvantages for other families who, in the worst case scenarios, end up with children in different schools, while those from farther away have their highest preference met and attend the same school.”

Dr Passmore acknowledges that there is “no easy solution” to the issue.

However, she concludes: “Solving the need to provide extra places for some children has created a problem for other children.”

Parents’ groups reacted with horror to the idea that their children will be taught in different schools in different parts of town if any review of the existing admissions code takes place.

Margaret Morrissey, of the parents’ pressure group Parents Outloud, told The Independent: “It will be impossible to get both children to school on time if they are attending schools in different parts of town.

“It is a nonsense.  They don’t understand the tears and the pressures this will cause.”

The issue is one of a number raised in the annual report by Dr Passmore, the Chief Schools Adjudicator, which also criticises schools which refuse a primary school place to pupils because they did not attend the right nursery.

Dr Passmore says her office has received more than 20 objections over primaries prioritising reception class places for children who attend approved nurseries.

“The practice has been found to be unfair to other local children,” the report concludes.

A large part of the adjudicator’s job is to investigate complaints about school admissions – and the report says it received 162 objections this year, a 4 per cent increase on the previous year.

Dr Passmore’s report also concludes that a number of schools are failing to consult on their admission policies – which are often difficult to find on a school’s website.

Some schools, it adds, are also trying to avoid admitting certain youngsters, using “delaying tactics” to avoid taking them in.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Network Manager - Oldham area - Up to £30,000

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

Teacher of special needs required for Burton on Trent

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Exciting Opportunity, Rand...

Behaviour Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Behaviour Support Worker Th...

Youth Worker / Teaching Assistant - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are looki...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home