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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
  • Get to the point
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

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?