Poole residents one step closer to public consultation on removing school catchment areas

Bournemouth Echo: KEY ISSUE: Poole Civic Centre KEY ISSUE: Poole Civic Centre

POOLE residents are one step closer to being consulted on potentially removing catchment areas for primary school-aged children in the area.

Following a recommendation to Borough of Poole council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny committee on Tuesday evening, it has been unanimously approved that a public consultation should be held on the option of removing school catchment areas.

The vote would solely focus on community and voluntarily controlled primary, infant, first, junior and middle schools and would not affect secondary schools in the town.

It has come about following the council’s Options Study, which was created on the basis that some catchment areas are not working and others may not be sustainable in the future.

Cllr Sandra Moore, Chair of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said that members of the committee discussed the Options Study in detail before unanimously approving the recommendation to go out to consultation.

She added: “We understand that this is a key issue for people and it is important we consider our residents’ views before making any decisions going forward.”

At present, 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 final decision to progress to consultation will be taken by Cllr Janet Walton, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Families, on March 24.

If approved, the consultation would run from the end of April to June and would ask for residents’ views on either having no catchment areas or keeping the current ones as they are.

No changes would be made until at least September 2016.

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