Sibling issues

PUBLISHED: 10:31 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

SIR, — Roma Mills writes (Herts Advertiser letters, October 23) that the sibling rule should not be blamed for the fact that local children will not be able to attend their nearest school, Aboyne Lodge, in the 2009 intake, with the real problem being the

SIR, - Roma Mills writes (Herts Advertiser letters, October 23) that the sibling rule should not be blamed for the fact that local children will not be able to attend their nearest school, Aboyne Lodge, in the 2009 intake, with the real problem being the fact that St Albans city-centre schools cannot accommodate the numbers of children required.

This is true. The situation has been going on for several years and and Herts County Council appear to have done nothing strategic to alleviate it. Instead, in 2007 they exacerbated the situation we find ourselves in now with the short-sighted decision to allow a double intake for one year only. This has had the knock-on effect of creating the unusually large number of siblings in 2009 filling up the admission number of 30 with apparently no room for a second reception class this time. Now the county council are again applying a sticking plaster to the issue by increasing the admission numbers in a couple of schools that are a much further distance away for city-centre parents.

Nevertheless, the admission rules do seem unjust to us parents who will not get a place for our child at Aboyne Lodge, our nearest school, in 2009. We find ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes to the next nearest, third nearest and so on. This is because the admission rule which comes after the sibling rule gives precedence to people's nearest school, and so reduces the chances elsewhere for people who have Aboyne Lodge nearest. The rules would be fairer if the second nearest school was reclassified as the nearest school if the actual nearest does not have space.

Next year city-centre children will end up going to schools at such a distance away it will inevitably mean that their parents drive to them rather than walk. This gives rise to more congestion on the roads, more pollution and safety issues around the schools at drop-off and pick-up time.

To add to the feeling of grievance, we will probably find ourselves passing cars going in the other direction taking children to Aboyne Lodge. Not just because the double intake of 2007 led to the geographical area which serves Aboyne Lodge expanding for that year - and any siblings of children admitted that year - but also because some people who live in the area with children at Aboyne Lodge continue to send them there even when they have moved away from the immediate area. Any siblings in these families will get preference over local children in 2009. Perhaps the sibling rule would be fairer here if it only applied to siblings who have Aboyne Lodge as their nearest school too.

GRAHAM and SUSAN WESTLAKE,

Cannon Street, St Albans.

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