Brighton and Hove school admissions lottery under threat

Posted On 28 May 2011 at 11:37 pm

The school places lottery system in Brighton and Hove may be scrapped after an announcement by the Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday (Friday 27 May).

The system was brought in three years ago amid great controversy among parents but with broad cross-party support on Brighton and Hove City Council.

Now it looks as though it may be at risk as Mr Gove pledges to ban “area-wide lotteries” in the new school admissions code.

He said that he wanted to introduce “a fairer and simpler system” adding: “The two current codes (for primary and secondary schools) stretch to more than 130 pages and impose more than 600 mandatory requirements on admissions authorities.

“The process is complex, confusing, costly and unfair.

“You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to navigate the school system.”

But Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “Michael Gove’s latest dictat flies in the face of everything the Tory-led government have been saying about promoting local decision-making and has the potential to throw the city’s secondary school admissions system into chaos.

“While no system is perfect we now have an improved and fair policy of allocation in the city that has increased the numbers of parents getting their first preference of school.

“We now face going back to the bad old days of only those that can afford the inflated house prices next to popular schools having the certainly of getting their children in.”

There have been some claims that the system is not “area-wide” in Brighton and Hove.

This appears to be based on the lottery – or electronic random allocation system – being used in practice mostly in relation to four schools in two of the six catchment areas.

The four schools are Blatchington Mill, Hove Park, Dorothy Stringer and Varndean.

But the rule applies across the whole of Brighton and Hove and is set out in the section entitled “The council’s admissions priorities” in the Secondary Schools Admissions Booklet.

Once the Department for Education consultation is complete, the new admissions code is expected to take effect for those starting school in September 2013.

  1. Singularly unimpressed Reply

    Really, Gill Mitchell. Then you can’t have a child at Stanford Junior School. The school worst served by the ill-thought out system. Basically, the B&H council could not provide a decent enough school in the east of the city and pressure groups quite rightly fought for the right to access a secondary school that would not fail their children there, then progressively the movement moved west throughout the city. The end result – our junior school has children flung between seven different schools, busing miles across the city in an attempt to socially-engineer secondary schools. Environmentally-friendly? No. Respectful of communities? No. Are the schools upping their results? No. They’re all boiling down to a singularly unimpressive median. But, look! As years go by, there are less appeals. Surely an indication that the system is working? Well, no. Surely an indication that people are prepared to dig out a Catholic faith that they don’t genuinely have (to get entrance to the controversially located Cardinal Newman – for surely, if it were not a faith school, Brighton and Hove’s secondary school allocation problem would be solved?) or because they bail out of the state system altogether (why else would independent schools – that let’s remember – don’t require qualified teachers – prosper so well with panicked places secured by alarmed parents?). Still, Gill, genius. Unless, of course, you have a kid you’re hoping to educate beyond the age of eleven.

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