Call to reconsider Herts school sibling rule

PUBLISHED: 14:45 01 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

A FRESH look at school admissions next month is being urged to consider the impact of siblings whose parents have moved out of the St Albans district. Cllr Chris Brazier, who represents Colney Heath and London Colney on the county council, had a meeting w

A FRESH look at school admissions next month is being urged to consider the impact of siblings whose parents have moved out of the St Albans district.

Cllr Chris Brazier, who represents Colney Heath and London Colney on the county council, had a meeting with Glenda Hardy, head of schools admissions and transport at County Hall, to discuss the subject which is going to next month's meeting of cabinet.

He wants to see the issue broadened beyond consultation on the distance from home to school which is being tabled.

Cllr Brazier has been attending secondary school appeals with parents in his area for the past 13 years and said the situation was not getting any better.

He argues that it has been exacerbated by parents securing a place for one of their children at a local school and then moving out of the district - relying on the sibling rule to allow all their subsequent children to go to the same school.

He said: "They rely totally on the sibling rule to allow all of their subsequent children to go to the same school. This is open to abuse and precludes children from the St Albans district being given a fair choice of secondary school."

Cllr Brazier pointed out that as a result, children were being driven or bussed in from as far away as Dunstable, Watford, Potters Bar and Abbots Langley.

And he maintains that by abolishing the rule for siblings out of the district, at last 120 school places would be freed up each transfer year.

Cllr Brazier insists that if cabinet decides only to consult on distance between school and home, they will not get a comprehensive analysis of what people feel about the current admission policy.

He believes that the sibling rule as it stands is open to abuse by parents renting properties near a school of their choice, buying flats near the school or placing children with grandparents or relatives who live nearby.

If parents have to split up for whatever reason and there is a social/economic reason for moving out of the district, they would still be able to appeal under Rule Two of the admissions policy so they would not be disadvantaged, he maintains.

Cllr Brazier added: "Distance should not be the only criteria and Glenda Hardy said she would put my point to cabinet.

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