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Consultation On Catchments Options Starts On Monday

 The consultation on catchment options in Poole will start on 28 April and parents are invited to have their say on proposals.

On 11 March, Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny committee unanimously recommended that the council carries out a public consultation on the option of removing school catchment areas for Community and Voluntary Controlled Primary, Infant, First, Junior and Middle Schools. 

The consultation will run for six school weeks from 28 April - 13 June and the Council will be consulting on behalf of all Primary-phase schools in Poole (except for St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School).  Residents will be asked for their views on either having no catchment areas or keeping catchment areas the same. If catchment areas are removed they would be replaced with a system to offer places based on distance from the school.    Consultation documents and an online form will be made available at boroughofpoole.com/catchmentreview.

Catchment areas are only applied if a school is oversubscribed and are not a legal requirement. Other local authorities who do not have catchment areas as part of their admission arrangements offer places  based on distance from the school when there are more applicants than places available. 

The consultation comes following Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee approval, in November 2013, for an Options Study to be undertaken on school catchment areas for Poole Community and Voluntary Controlled Primary phase Schools.

The Options Study was requested on the basis that some catchment areas are not working and others may not be sustainable in the long term, for example:

  • There are schools that are not in their own catchment areas;

  • Some schools have  more children in catchment than can be accommodated at the school;

  • A new junior school is opening in September 2015 that will not have a catchment area; 

  • An increasing number of schools are becoming academies, some of which have indicated that they are considering removing catchment areas. 

The Options Study considered three options: no change to the current arrangements; establishing new catchment areas and removing catchment areas.   The option for new catchments has not been recommended for public consultation as it did not solve all the issues the council needs to address.

Cllr Janet Walton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Families, Borough of Poole, said: "It is crucial we consult with residents before making any decisions going forward and I would encourage parents to take part in the consultation and share their views. We understand this is a key issue for people and we would encourage people to attend one of the public meetings to ask any questions they may have about the proposals."

Public meetings are being held on the following dates:

Date         Time                                        Venue
14 May      7pm                  Poole High School, Wimborne Road, Poole
15 May      7pm                  Magna Academy, Ashdown Close, Canford Heath
20 May      7pm                  St Aldhelm’s Academy, Herbert Avenue, Poole
22 May      7pm                  The Junction Leisure Centre, Broadstone
3 June       10am & 7pm     Civic Centre, Poole

The final decision about whether to keep catchment areas as they are or remove catchment areas for Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools will be taken in September when a report on the consultation along with an officer recommendation is presented to Children's Overview and Scrutiny Committee. For all other schools the decision to retain or remove catchments will be made by their Governing Bodies.  The earliest a change could be made is September 2016.