Sibling rule blamed for full-up primary schools

PUBLISHED: 20:00 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 May 2010

County Councillor Chris White - condemns 'sticking plaster' solutions

County Councillor Chris White - condemns 'sticking plaster' solutions

PARENTS trying to get children into the primary schools of their choice in the centre of St Albans are finding a lack of places for next September. Some of the blame has been put on the sibling rule which gives the younger brothers and sisters of pupils a

PARENTS trying to get children into the primary schools of their choice in the centre of St Albans are finding a lack of places for next September.

Some of the blame has been put on the sibling rule which gives the younger brothers and sisters of pupils already there the right to attend the same school.

They say this leads to the present situation where schools are potentially full before parents with their first starter child even apply.

Nicola Gardiner, of Worley Road, St Albans, is unhappoy that her daughter Scarlett has been told she cannot go to nearby Aboyne Lodge School due to 29 siblings being accepted this year.

Neither is it likely she will be able to attend Maple School in nearby Townsend Drive due to there being only eight places left there.

Mrs Gardiner said: "It's not just us. Lots of people have been told that their children will not be eligible to attend these schools. We've been told Garden Fields School is the likely option."

But because of the distance from her home, Mrs Gardiner says it will take her 35 minutes each way to walk the distance with Scarlett and her one-year-old son Alex. The family have a car but her husband uses it for his job in London.

Local LibDem Herts County Councillors Chris White and Aislinn Lee have renewed their attack on the county's school admissions planning policy as parents learn that local schools, especially in St Albans city centre, are full.

They say they are sick of "sticking-plaster" solutions to the perennial problem of pupils being unable to get into schools near their homes.

Cllr White said: "Many schools are full or near to full because of siblings. When the county council discovered that it had underestimated the numbers of children needing school places by 90 two years ago, we warned that drastic action needed to be taken to provide additional forms of entry.

"All we got were temporary classrooms and a failure to recognise that the majority of the additional 90 in 2007 would also have siblings."

A county council spokesperson said action was taken in 2007 to increase the reception intake at three schools in the city centre - Aboyne Lodge, Maple and St Peter's. But she said these schools did not have the site capacity to increase any further.

However, work had been undertaken to identify schools that could be expanded in every year group in line with predicted need in the city.

She added: "These places are being provided at Bernard's Heath infant School and Mandeville Primary School.

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