Reinstating fairness for families with siblings attending Nottinghamshire Primary Schools
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https://www.facebook.com/groups/305964993084259/ vs Nottinghamshire County Council.
Hundreds of families have been affected by Nottinghamshire County Council's decision to change oversubscription criteria for school places.
As a result many families, who chose schools in good faith under previous arrangements, have since learned that younger siblings will not be able to join their older brothers and sisters at Nottinghamshire primary school.
Aside from the upset to a great many 4 year olds facing the daunting task of attending school for the first time; there are also significant logistical challenges to families of getting children to different schools which often start and finish at the same time.
Nottinghamshire County Council changed the oversubscription criteria to remove priority for out-catchment children who already have siblings at a primary school, over those who live out-catchment without siblings at the school.
Similar or greater priority for out-catchment siblings is still provided by the vast majority of other authorities in the country (estimated to be in the region of 97%).
Such changes can only be made after Lawful “effective” consultation with parents and other interested parties.
We believe Nottinghamshire's consultation was flawed with just 9 respondents. This is because they published their usual notice of a consultation which made no mention of the proposal to change the criteria.
In comparison Leeds council received 1,917 responses (from a similar population) with just 4 in favour resulting in the proposal being dropped.
In the very few Authorities where these changes have been implemented safeguards have been put in place to ensure families with children currently enrolled in out of catchment schools were not disadvantaged.
The change took affect for the 2016/17 school year (which starts next week) leaving many hundreds of families with young children at different schools.The council have also formalised the same arrangements for next year (17/18)
It would seem the vast majority of people were not aware of the change until after national offer day and until quite recently there was no mention of it even in the local press.
Further more our research suggests that Nottinghamshire County Council are the only Authority in the Country to implement this change in a manner that affects parents with children already attending a school.
Whilst this is specific to Nottinghamshire residents other authorities can and have considered similar change. If unchallenged it could set a precedent allowing the same changes to retrospectively affect people in other areas.
We believe it is unjust to remove a priority for out catchment children who already have brothers or sisters attending the school.
The Council appears to have failed to ensure that sufficient numbers of parents were aware of the changes allowing concerns to be voiced.
A proper consultation involving parents (whether affected or not) could have revealed that most parents are likely to have regarded the change to retrospectively and disproportionately disadvantage parents whose children are already at a school having been accepted under the previous rules or who, may need to move out of the school catchment area in the future.
If the current arrangements continue then all families with younger siblings applying for out of catchment school places in Nottinghamshire will face the same issue.
This despite the fact their older child may have been offered a non-catchment school to begin with.
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