The aim is to address a problem of families in urban areas choosing to send children to rural schools, filling them, and making it difficult for children moving into the community at a later date to be accommodated.
At the moment all siblings already at a school take second priority in the admissions criteria, but the new criteria would see siblings living outside the pre-defined community area moving lower down the list of priorities.
The whole of Uckfield is within one community area but surrounding villages – Little Horsted, Isfield, Framfield, Blackboys and Hadlow Down – are in a different one.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman confirmed that meant parents would still be able to choose to send a child to any school in Uckfield knowing any siblings would still be second on the list of priorities to attend in the future.
But, if they chose to send children to village schools the admissions criteria for siblings would be different under the new rules proposed for 2017-18.
The change would not affect children who had a brother or sister who joined a school prior to September, 2017, and were still on the roll.
A consultation on the change is under way at the moment and closes on January 31. Find more information, and an online survey, on the East Sussex County Council website.
The council summarises the sibling rule change saying: “In recent years there has been pressure on places in rural schools in a number of parts of the county.
“This has at least partly been as a result of families in urban areas choosing to send their children to rural schools rather than making use of schools in the town where they live.
“This fills the rural schools in the initial allocation process, leaving it difficult for them to accommodate children moving into the community area at a later date.
“However, we do recognise that rural schools in particular serve a local community and that the needs of the local community should be prioritised ahead of those living outside the community area.
“To alleviate this problem we propose to prioritise children living in the community area ahead of children with a sibling link who live outside the area. This would not prevent out of area siblings from being offered a place, but they would only be offered a place if all children living in the area had been offered a place already.”
Proposed admissions criteria
A segment from the proposed new admissions criteria for 2017-18 can be seen here:
1. Looked after children and children who were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or subject to residence orders or special guardianship orders) immediately following being looked after.
2. Children who will have a brother or sister at the school (or linked infant orjunior school) at the time of admission and who live at the same address, within the pre-defined community area* Children are ‘siblings’ if they are full, half, adoptive foster or step brother or sister living in the same household. This criterion includes siblings attending school sixth forms. The definition of ‘community area’ can be found in priority 4 below.
3. Children wishing to transfer between a linked infant and junior school (as per schools listed in the admission booklet).
4. Other children living within a pre-defined community area. Each home address within the county falls within a community area although living within the community area does not guarantee a place. The admission booklet ‘applying for a school place 2016-2017’ shows details of the community are as for each school. Peacehaven Community School has a separate ‘priority community area’ whose residents are prioritised ahead of children in the wider community area.
5. Children who will have a brother or sister at the school (or linked infant or junior school) at the time of admission who live at the same address, outside the pre-defined community area.* The definition of sibling is as shown above in priority 2.
6. Other children living outside the pre-defined community area.
* Children who have a brother or sister who joined the school prior to 1 September 2017 (1 September 2012 for Frant CE Primary School) and who is still on roll will be admitted under the previous criteria which gave priority to brothers and sisters regardless of whether they live in the pre-defined community area or not.
Current admissions criteria
This is a segment from the current admissions criteria:
Priority 1: Looked After Children and previously looked after children. These are children in the care of a local authority or those who were looked after but aren’t any longer because they have been adopted (or subject to a residence order or special guardianship order).
Priority 2: Children who will have a brother or sister at the school, or a linked infant or junior school, at the time of admission. Brothers and sisters also include half brothers and sisters, adoptive, or foster brothers and sisters, who live in the same house.
Priority 3: Children wishing to transfer between a linked infant and junior school. This only applies to children who are leaving year 2 at an infant school and selecting a particular junior school.
Priority 4: Children living within a pre-defined community area. Each home address in the county falls within a community area. See below for more information about community areas.
Priority 5: Children living outside the pre-defined community area. This covers children who do not fit into any other criteria.