Families split up by rules on school places

By Dan Santy 03/05 Updated: 04/05 14:37

Buy photos » Parents and children who are angry their siblings will be split up because of limits on places at St Matthews Bloxham Primary School. 18.012.025.rug.jg

ANGRY parents have hit out at school admission rules which split up siblings.

Some 17 families with children at St Matthew's Bloxam Primary each face having to send their children to different schools from September because siblings cannot get a place alongside their older brother or sister.

In one case, mother-of-three Heike Behle's six-year-old son Lucas attends St Matthew's Bloxam, but her twin girls Isabel and Josephine, aged four, have been refused a place.

It means she faces having to take her son to St Matthew's Bloxam and her daughters to St Oswald's before going to work as a researcher at Warwick University before returning to pick them up, each day.

Mrs Behle, who lives on Johnson Avenue, told the Observer: "Every family I've spoken to and has been affected by this is really upset.

"We're quite puzzled by the admissions rules. Our children want to go the same school as their siblings, and life's complicated enough without having to do two separate school runs before going to work."

Ms Behle pointed out she did not mind her twins going to St Oswald's and said she only took issue with the fact they would be separated from their older brother.

The school has told her and other parents it could accommodate their younger children - but the county council has refused to allow it because admissions rules limit class sizes to 30.

Fellow parent Rebecca Fay said her four-year-old son attends St Matthew's Bloxam nursery but cannot get a place at the primary school alongside his older brother.

Ms Fay said: "They have offered him a place in Oakfield Primary School which is further away than St Matthew's Bloxam. I am a single mother and I do not drive so being in two places at one time is impossible.

"The school were willing to expand to take the children with sibling links, but this has been refused by the local authority."

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, criticised the county council for offering her three-year-old son an alternative place at a school much further away than St Matthew's Bloxam.

Six of the affected families live within the catchment area for St Matthew's Bloxam, whereas the other 11 do not.

Warwickshire County Council, which oversees schools in the area, said when there were more applicants than available places at particular schools an 'over-subscription criteria' was assigned to each applicant.

It means priority is given to those living in a catchment area with a sibling already at that school, followed by other children in the area, after which any remaining places go to children out of the catchment area but with siblings at that school.

A spokeswoman said: "The aim of these arrangements is to ensure that, wherever possible, children living in the school's priority area are offered a place, and to ensure that where a sibling attends the school that this is taken into account, but this cannot be guaranteed.

"Legislation limits the number of children in a class to 30 per qualified teacher and we must take this into account when offering places.

"The local authority make every effort to ensure that sufficient school places are available and this includes the expansion of schools where considered appropriate."

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