Parents frustrated at lack of changes to school admissionsBy Laura Herbert
September 24, 2012
Parents campaigning for changes in the siblings school places rule are frustrated reforms have not been made despite a draft admissions policy being published.
The group of mums and dads have been working with Wokingham Borough Council officers to alter the criteria on siblings, regardless of whether they are out of catchment.
Many of the parents have a younger child due to start in 2013 or later, but fear they will not be given a place at the same school as older siblings.
Dad Nic Lander who has two children at Walter Infant School and a third child due to start next September, is ‘furious’ the policy has been published without any changes.
He said: “I chose Walter because we can walk in 10 minutes but my catchment school is 25 minutes walk, tell me the sense in that.
“I also understand we need more schools and plans are progressing well but that still doesn’t address my issue.
“Children should not be split up, it’s morally wrong. This issue won’t go away, every year I will appeal like many other parents in the sibling team to get my children together.”
The draft policy, published by Wokingham Borough Council last Wednesday, must be published no later than September 12 under the Schools Information (England) Regulations 2008.
The parents are working with the council to see if there is enough evidence to make changes to the policy before the final draft is published in November.
Karen Knight said: “It is disappointing there isn’t a change but we are still working very closely with the council and are appreciative of the help and support afforded by one of its senior members, Brian Grady.”
Mrs Knight chose a school in Woosehill – her closest but out-of-ctachment school – for her eldest child but now faces the possibility of having to juggle two school runs.
She added: “We have been instrumental to stop this happening for other parents in the future but we need a change to help those siblings already affected.
“We need the council to make that change. Time is running out and this is our last ditch attempt.”
The council plans to adopt the Primary Education Strategy in November, which sets out how extra primary places will be created.
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “I am happy with the approach my officers have been taking and I understand parents want something done quickly. We have to be clear about the decisions and what impacts they will have. We will be taking the Primary Schools Strategy before the executive for decision in October.
She added:”I think we are doing a really good job and looking at the issue of school places in a much better way than many other local authorities facing similar challenges.”
She said more than 500 parents had so far been consulted and many positive responses received. She added: “At the end I hope we will be able to satisfy as many people as possible.”