Free School Meals (FSM) Banding
The distance measurement software exists at the council to simulate FSM banding. In simple terms it is possible to reserve a percentage of places in each school for those kids receiving free school meals. They would receive priority in the same manner that is provided for kids on Statement of Educational Needs (SENS) and those kids with Sibling links. The remaining places would be allocated according to distance measurement.
Advantages – all the benefits of the existing system would be retained but a more comprehensive intake would also be achieved at all secondary schools. Additionally, kids living within the local area of a secondary school would be sure to still achieve a place.
The Current Proposal
The Working Group did not model FSM banding because (in combination with equal preference and distance) that would have left kids in other areas (namely Queens Park and Hanover) at risk of being directed to Falmer (it was pressure from these areas which initiated the secondary school admissions debate) . In other words, the Working Group was, from the outset, only going to look at models that gave specific areas what they wanted, which was that the risk of direction to Falmer should be borne by parents in other areas.
Under the new proposals we have got an unacceptable situation where ballots will be used to send kids from Prestonville or Westdene three miles across the City, because of a political decision to protect certain parents from sending their kids to Falmer.
- The Council must be asked to explain why FSM banding was not modeled.
- The Council should be asked why all the benefits of the existing system are being sacrificed to obtain a level of social justice which could be obtained by very simple changes to the existing system.
- The Council should be asked why there are a small number of middle class areas of East Brighton, benefiting to the detriment of other areas of the city.