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Breakfast Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 05:05 GMT 06:05 UK
Failed by the system
Breakfast's series Chasing Places
Going to the right primary school matters
In some areas, your child's choice of education, right up to the age of 18, can be determined by what school they were allocated at five years old.

This is because many areas operate "feeder schools" where primary schools have special relationships with local secondaries and send the majority of their pupils on to a small number of local schools.

The idea is to ease the transition at 11 - and give parents a degree of certainty about what school their child will move on to.

  • But what happens when the "feeder school" policy is changed? Today, we looked at two cases - in London and in West Berkshire - where a small change in policy may spell disappointment for children who thought they had their secondary school future mapped out.

    Graham Young's story

    Graham Young lives in Cold Ash, West Berkshire. The village is lucky to have one of the top 60 primary schools in England, St Marks.

    But his Local Education Authority has changed the school St Marks feeds into by moving the boundary of the catchment area. Instead of feeding a secondary school one and a half miles from his home, it will now feed another one five miles away.

    So Graham's daughter, who's currently at primary school, will end up at a different school from his son, who's already at secondary school, causing huge inconvenience to the family.

    West Berkshire Council, which runs Grahams local schools, says it's trying to acheive the best use of resources in the area. Changes to catchment areas are always intended to benefit the greatest number of pupils, as some schools fill up and other places become available elsewhere.

    But Graham fears the policy will lead to greater congestion and inconvenience for many families.


    Camden, North London

    In North London, the situation is even more confused. At the moment, many children attending primary schools in one borough, Islington, go on to attend secondary school in neighbouring Camden.

    Now, Camden wants to re-draw the rules to give priority to children who went to primary schools within its borders.

    Parents argue that well established links between feeder schools and secondaries will be destroyed, harming their children's education.

    They're also unhappy that the new policy gives priority to Camden residents, even if they've chosen to go private at primary level.


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    29 Apr 03 | Breakfast
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