Concept of catchment is outdated
Thank you for raising awareness of the school admissions debacle that is occurring in WCC (and indeed many other local authorities) this year (Courier last week). In response to Cllr Timms’ assertion that children are admitted, within this LEA, on a ‘fair basis’ I would like to say the following.
1) How is it fair that I can live 1/3 of a mile from our local school and not be offered a place for my second son, when my eldest son is already at the school, and yet other families have been offered places for their first born children, who live more than 2/3 of a mile from that same school?
2) How is it fair that other families who live more than 2/3 of a mile from the school can be higher up on the waiting list for a place for their first born child than my son (given we are 1/3 of a mile from school with a child already there)?
3) How is it fair that families who got places (eg) two years ago at their catchment school are now refused places for their second or third children, having moved just one or two streets away? I know of schools who advised parents - in good faith - that moving would not be a problem. (One family in question moved because their long term rented house that they’d lived in for over six years was being sold by the landlord, another because they needed more space).
4) How is it fair that families who did not get offered places ‘in catchment’ this year - and there are plenty of those too - are then left with no choice than to accept a place at an ‘out of catchment’ school, thus potentially compounding the problem when they come to applying for a place in a couple of years’ time for their own second child?
We have not even touched on the practical difficulties of taking and collecting two or more children to/from two (or more) different schools at the same time every morning and afternoon. Not to mention the social, emotional and financial consequences of splitting two children up at that stage of their education.
In essence, the concept of ‘catchment’ (especially in small towns like Leamington and Warwick) is outdated, and increasingly unfair and unworkable, especially since the current catchment boundaries were determined many years ago, before much of the current housing stock and recent developments were built. We would like to see a system of ‘Priority Area’ - denoting a radial distance from a school on which priority is determined, instead - with consideration for siblings already attending a particular school.
However, as importantly as our grievance is to us (as a significant group of currently affected families) with ref. the exact criteria for allocation of places, we are equally concerned to make the following points, to other families, and also to WCC officials.
a) We want families to know that parents of children aged two-18 must, by law, be consulted on what they believe the admissions criteria for WCC should be, and where extra school places should be provided to accommodate intake. We believe that most parents don’t know they have this right, and that most parents wouldn’t know how to exercise that right. Further, we believe that WCC does not go far enough to ensure that parents are consulted on changes that are being considered.
b) We want families of children due to start school in September 2013 and beyond, to be aware of the current situation, and to know that it is not going to change for 2013/14 admission and beyond. We don’t want any other families to be ignorant, as we have been, of the fact that they may very well not get a place at their local school, either for a sibling, or for a first born child. We want families to be able to make informed choices.
c) We urge families to exercise their right to influence the policy that they will be subject to! The old adage remains - if you don’t speak up when you can, then don’t expect to be listened to if you don’t like the outcome!
As a group of affected families, we have set up a Facebook page as a focal point for discussion and support for affected families, and anyone with a reasoned opinion on the matter! We would like to draw your readers’ attention to the page and invite them to take a look. The page is called ‘Siblingsathesameschool’. - Hayley Hindle, via email.
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Weather for Leamington
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South