THE way the Vale council decides which children get places in the most oversubscribed secondary schools is changing.

The authority is bringing in a new policy despite opposition from parents.

Under the new rules, children who live in a school’s catchment area will have priority when secondaries are oversubscribed.

At the moment, secondary school places are allocated to children who go to specific primary schools – known as feeder schools – but this is being removed as a way of selecting pupils at oversubscribed secondaries.

The council says this change will mean children who move into the area at a late stage “are not unduly disadvantaged”.

The cabinet approved the plans on April 15 despite 198 parents opposing the move, while 105 told a consultation they were in favour of the change. The parents of 9,820 children were consulted by the council.

Parents who voiced objections feared children affected by the proposal will not be able to attend a secondary school along with their friends within the feeder primary school.

The council said the proposed changes will not mean that children living outside of a secondary schools catchment area will not be able to apply for a place. It says 90 per cent of parents on average each year receive the offer of a place at their first choice of school.

A council report says: “Transferring to secondary school is a significant event in a child’s life and schools are very experienced in offering pupils support as part of this process.

“Part of this transition is the opportunity to make new friends and have different experiences. Transition from primary to secondary often means new

friendship groups are formed, even if attending a secondary school with a high

number of peers from their primary school.

“Support and resources would continue to be offered by school and council transition support staff in order to assist in this process.”

The council also says the admission arrangements would prioritise those with a sibling already at the secondary school of their choice higher than is the case currently.

The report says: “If these admission arrangements are adopted, pupils living outside of the catchment area who will have a sibling on roll at the school when they transfer to secondary school will have a higher priority than those pupils who live outside of the catchment area, have no sibling at the school but previously would have been ranked higher based on their attendance at a feeder primary school.”