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Competition for primary schools 'sign of the times'

Parents planning their child's primary school place before the have even conceived is "a sign of the times", a parenting expert has said.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said their survey into measures taken by parents to get their child into their ideal school showed how "tough" competition for places had become:

Competition for what parents perceive to be the best schools is now so tough they will do almost anything to gain their child a place.

Some ways like moving house to be close to the school can cost tens of thousands of pounds, while others such as applying for a nursery place at the school in a bid to boost their chances are bending the rules - but determined mums and dads will do what it takes.

It's a real sign of the times that people now begin thinking about which school to send their child to before they are even pregnant.

– Siobhan Freegard

'One fifth' tried to charm staff for school place

A little over a fifth (22%) of parents have tried to be friendly to education staff while visiting a prospective primary school in a bid to secure a place for their child, a survey has found.

A poll conducted by parenting website Netmums revealed:

  • More than a fifth (21.2%) had bought a house closer to their favoured school, while a further 17% had rented somewhere nearby.
  • Around one in six (16.2%) of mothers and fathers had started thinking about primary schools when their child was still under one.
  • A further 9.3% considering it when they were expecting.
  • Some 6.9% thinking about the issue before they fell pregnant.

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David Cameron consulted over former terror chief

by Rupert Evelyn - ITV News Midlands Correspondent

ITV news has been told that concerns about the education commissioner appointment are shared by two government departments.

David Cameron was consulted by the Department for Education over the use of a former terror chief to investigate education.

David Cameron was consulted. Credit: PA

Sources here in Birmingham have told us that when consulted two government departments told the Department for Education they didn't agree with it.

Read: Two govt departments 'against education commissioner choice'

Two govt departments 'against commissioner choice'

Sources in Birmingham have told ITV News that two government departments did not agree with the Department For Education's choice for education commissioner.

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Sources here in Birmingham have told @itvnews that 2 government departments did not agree with DFE's choice for education commissioner

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Birmingham schools investigator is 'missed opportunity'

The Leader of Birmingham City Council has expressed concern over the appointment of an independent Education Commissioner to investigate allegations of extremism and radicalism in 25 city schools.

Sir Albert Bore said the announcement seemed a "missed opportunity", and warned the new commissioner Peter Clarke to ensure his work "does not undermine the confidence of our communities".

At first sight, today’s announcement of an Independent Commissioner is a missed opportunity to strengthen our co-ordinated approach to addressing these very serious matters.

Peter Clarke will need to give careful consideration to building a strong relationship with us and, given his recent counter-terrorism responsibilities in London, ensure that his investigation does not undermine the confidence of our communities.

– Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council

However, he said that "in the interests of the children and young people of the city", he will ensure that Peter Clarke has "every opportunity to add value" to the work being done.

Police slam Birmingham schools investigator choice

West Midlands Police have criticised the Government's choice of commissioner to investigate allegations relating to extremism in Birmingham schools.

Chief Constable Chris Sims called the appointment of Peter Clarke "desperately unfortunate", due to conclusions that may be drawn from Clarke's former role in counter terrorism.

This is a desperately unfortunate appointment. Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism.

I am a strong supporter of open and inclusive education for all children in Birmingham and across the West Midlands and am committed to the process adopted by Birmingham City Council with educational and social inclusion at its heart.

– Statement by Chief Constable Chris Sims

New commissioner will investigate Birmingham schools

The government has appointed an Education Commissioner to investigate the allegations that schools in Birmingham are being targeted by individuals "wishing to push an Islamist agenda".

Peter Clarke
Peter Clarke will analyse evidence of extremist infiltration in both academies and council-run schools. Credit: PA

Peter Clarke was an officer in the Metropolitan Police Service for 31 years where he became Deputy Assistant Commissioner, heading up the Counter Terrorism Command.

He received the OBE in 2006 for his work on the 7/7 bombings the previous year.

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove said Clarke "brings a wealth of relevant skills and experience, and is very well placed to lead a fair and thorough assessment of the evidence, and report back to me".

Media 'presumed' allegations of extremism were true

The media "presumed" claims 25 Birmingham city schools were rife with extremism and radicalism were true, even though investigations have yet to reach a conclusion, a high ranking member of the Muslim Council for Britain told Daybreak.

Talha Ahmad, himself a former Birmingham school teacher, criticised a Sunday Times editorial for assuming there was "something fishy" about the 25 schools Birmingham City Council were investigating.

"What we need to remember in 25 schools, in a city of two million people, while 200 is a very large number, but if you are really prejudicial and have a natural degree of hatred, it is quite possible that you may get that number of complaints."

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