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School Catchment Areas will remain until 2018

Borough of Poole’s Council voted on Tuesday (16 December 2014) to agree in principle the removal of catchment areas for community and voluntary controlled primary-phase schools in Poole but to delay the implementation date to 2018 at the earliest.

For all other types of school the decision to retain or remove catchments will be made by their governing bodies.  Some schools are currently consulting on removing their catchment areas for September 2016.

Public consultation took place from 28 April to 13 June 2014 to seek views on removing catchment areas for primary phase schools, or leaving them as they are. 203 responses were received and 60 people attended six public meetings.

49% of respondents were in favour of the proposal to remove school catchment areas, with 51% not supporting the proposal.  The responses were not evenly distributed across the borough with 66% of responses received from people living within the Broadstone Middle and Baden Powell and St Peter’s CE VC Middle School catchment areas.

Councillors were informed that a number of changes had arisen during the period of the catchment options study, which would impact on the viability of introducing new catchments from September 2016. 

These include:

  • On 23rd July 2014 a Draft Admissions Code was unexpectedly published by the Government. The option to prioritise pupil premium pupils proposed in the Draft Admissions Code must be considered before, or at the same time as, a date is agreed to remove catchments
  • Since the beginning for the consultation period, more schools have become academies.  This means that while the local authority was responsible for the admission arrangements at the start of the Options Study, the responsibility has now transferred to school governing bodies
  • An appraisal process for the Corfe Hills pyramid will not be completed before the statutory date for establishing the admission arrangements for September 2016.
  • The removal of catchments will require an amendment to the admission arrangements for all community and voluntary controlled schools including changes to the faith oversubscription criteria for voluntary controlled schools

Vicky Wales, Head of Children, Young People and Learning, Borough of Poole said, “Members accepted the recommendation that the implementation of the removal of catchment areas for Community and Voluntary Controlled primary-phase schools is delayed until September 2018.  This would allow time for the changes that have arisen to be addressed and for appropriate admission arrangements established.”

Consultation on the admission arrangements for September 2016 is currently taking place and will end 16 January 2015.  Finalised arrangements will be published on the council website by 1 May 2015.

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