Councillors to discuss 'out-of-catchment area' siblings

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Councillors in Nottingham are set to discuss a petition which has been signed by nearly five thousand people calling for out-of-catchment pupils to be allowed to attend the same schools as their siblings.

The petition has been set up by the Fairness4Siblings campaign group to oppose Nottinghamshire County Council's new policy - which has removed priority for out-of-catchment children who already have siblings at a primary school who are trying to secure a place there. The document, was handed to the local authority in November.

Now the council's Children and Young People's Committee is set to acknowledge the petition when it meets at County Hall.

The change came about in March 2015, after councillors had concerns that children living outside a catchment area but close to a school were sometimes unable to secure places at that school because places had been allocated to children who lived further away - sometimes a considerable distance - but had a sibling attending the school and therefore had priority.The report says:

The group believes that the removal of priority for out of catchment siblings, which was consulted on during 2014-15 and determined in the arrangements for 2016-17, is unfair and disadvantaged them.

Key arguments from the group include that siblings now attend different schools, the policy change is "anti-family", the change has been unfair, causing emotional and financial strain to some families, the change should have been phased over time to reduce adverse impact and a belief that the consultation was inadequate.

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The matters noted have been referred to the Office of the SchoolsAdjudicator (OSA) and the outcome is awaited.Clare Barnett, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, is one of the parents affected by the change.

Even though she handed supporting letters from her GP to say her four-year-old son had a heart condition, in September he was placed in Croft Primary School - a six-minute drive away from the school his six-year-old brother attends, Dalestorth, her younger son had attended Dalestorth's nursery.

Clare, who works for an accountant, says she is expected to have one son at school for 8.50am, the other for 8.55am and to be at work for 9am.

The 40-year-old told the Post in November she had been working with another parent in the same situation to share pick-ups and drop-offs.

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Councillor John Peck, the county council's committee chairman for Children and Young People's Services, said admission arrangements for 2018-19 will be agreed at February's committee meeting. He added: