The changes are one part of proposals to change school admissions policies in Leeds and the council are consulting the public on the changes.
The changes would come into force for the academic year 2010/21 and will affect six secondary schools and 108 primary schools across the city where Leeds City Council is the admissions authority.
The other 118 primary schools and 36 secondary schools in Leeds are Foundation, Academy, Free or Voluntary Aided schools who are their own admitting authority, responsible for determining their admissions policy independently.
What changes are being proposed?
For primary schools only;
1) To define catchment areas for the 108 community and voluntary controlled Primary Schools in the city.
For all schools;
2) Removal of the requirement for the sibling to be older than the applicant to qualify for sibling priority in the normal round.
3) That applications received after the statutory deadline for school applications will be considered as ‘late applications’ if received 4 weeks after the national deadline (rather than 6 weeks as in the existing policy). This is in line with neighbouring authorities the council says.
4) Changes to the application process for school transfers during the school year so that all applications are submitted by parents to the Local Authority rather than to each individual school
What will be different about the catchment areas?
The council currently prioritises places for those who have the school as their ‘nearest’, which is measured as the crow flies, in a straight line.
However the authority says that feedback has indicated that this doesn’t always easily describe who will receive priority for admission, because not all schools are included in the calculations of ‘nearest’ school with some considering factors including faith, a simple distance measurement or other criteria.
Secondary schools changed to catchment areas a couple of years ago with defined geographical areas where priority for admission is given and the council want to extend this as they think it is clearer for parents and can be more easily understood.
Catchment areas also help schools identify their communities and give parents an indication of their priority school where they are more likely to be offered a place.
In some areas the defined catchment areas will be the same area that currently receives nearest priority, whereas in other areas, the area will be drawn to take into account things like physical barriers such as rivers and main roads, or the number of children living within the area.
So if you live in the catchment area will you get a place at that school?
As with the existing ‘nearest’ priority, the council says there is no guarantee of a place for pupils living within a school's catchment area or for pupils who move into the area at a later date.
Living in a catchment area gives pupils a higher priority for a place at the school over other pupils who live outside the catchment area, but does not guarantee an offer of a place.
What are the council saying about it?
Coun Jonathan Pryor, executive member for learning, skill and employment said the changes will help the school become more child friendly.
He said: “Any changes to the way the admissions process works could affect families across the city. The input from parents, carers and community groups is vital to ensure all opinions are gathered before a final decision is made.”
Further information about the proposed admission arrangements, and detail about the proposed catchment areas for the primary schools, is available online at www.leeds.gov.uk/admissions. Click here for an interactive map of the changes.
The consultation period will run over seven weeks from Tuesday 23 October to Monday 7 December 2018.