Four families have won their appeal against the admissions policy of Hounslow Council. The parents all have children at Grove Park School but their younger siblings have been refused entry due to priority being given to children from the Council's Priority Admission Area.

The appeal was made to an independent body set up to decide admissions disputes. It judged that the Council's policy was unreasonable and unlawful. The policy of giving priority based on catchment areas as opposed to sibling relationships has been in place since 1992 and may now have to be changed. When there was the prospect of Hogarth School closing early this year many parents with children at Belmont School were concerned that their younger siblings would be unable to secure a place.

The four children seeking admission are four years old and their year group already has the maximum amount of 30 pupils. The Government have made this a legal maximum for the first three years of primary education. In 1998 a quarter of all early years primary school pupils were in classes over 30 but since September of this year this has become the maximum.

Local authorities receive central government funding for reducing class sizes below the maximum. It is not clear whether this money would be jeopardised if they increased the Grove Park reception class above 30 children.

The Council are awaiting receipt of the panel's full judgement and then may seek a judicial review. This will delay the entry of the children into the school although the parents' solicitor is arguing that legally the children should be admitted to the school immediately.

A Council spokesman disputed that their admission process was unfair or illegal saying that it had been agreed by the governors and parents and was based on Government guidance.

One Grove Park parent commented: "I have huge sympathy for these families but the rules are fairly clear and there is a shortage of good school places for local people. If the school run is such a problem then surely the solution is for them to move the older child closer to where they live."

On the discussion forum some are advocating a return to the principal of sibling priority in school admissions.

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Grove Park School