Are guaranteed places for siblings at schools on the way?

Campaigners want the right for siblings to attend the same school


If you’ve ever had children in different schools, the struggle is real. Longer school runs, different uniforms, and separate inset days can make life very difficult.


So now parents in Edinburgh are campaigning for the right for siblings to attend the same school – and want a national policy on the issue.

The population in the area has boomed in recent years and Towerbank Primary in Portobello is already full – so a review could see its catchment reduced. More than 500 people have now backed a petition calling on Edinburgh City Council to give a ‘sibling guarantee’ for places at the school.

Morven Wraight, whose son attends the school and whose daughter could be sent elsewhere, told the Telegraph: “Without this guarantee parents face having to drop one young child at one school and travelling at least one and a half miles across busy main roads to a second school.

“The council has yet to put forward a realistic suggestion to explain how parents can get to two different places with different children at the same time.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said it was up to the council to decide “how best to provide educational provision that meets local needs”.

Elsewhere in the UK, places for brothers and sisters are also not guaranteed – and admissions are run by local councils. Priority is given to special needs and ‘looked after’ children. They can then give places to children based on a list of criteria such as if they have a sibling at the school, distance from home, whether they go to church and if the child’s parents work at the school.

Officials at the Department for Education say that, based on anecdotal evidence, every year thousands of brothers and sisters are split between different schools because of a lack of places.

Last month, the schools minister Nick Gibb told the Sunday Telegraph he wants to give siblings an automatic right to attend the same state school for the first time. “I think it should be a requirement when, as long as you live within the catchment area and one of your children is at the school already, there should be a right for your next child to go to that school,” he said.

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