It's mostly about relationships: how the points system works when it comes to securing a pupil's preferred school

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 November, 2010, 12:00am

Children who had links to a school were favoured over those with none in the first stage of allocations for primary school places yesterday.

Of the 20,456 children who got a place, 44 per cent, or 9,027, succeeded with the school of their choice because they had siblings studying or parents working there. The remaining 11,429 were admitted through a points system that rewards those with other ties to the school or other factors.

Each child can earn up to 35 points. Entry to a top school requires at least 20 points.

Under the system, applicants are given a base mark of 10 for reaching primary age. They gain 20 marks if a parent is a registered manager - sitting on the board - of the primary school they are applying to. Having a parent or sibling as an alumni of the school carries 10 marks.

Other factors that give an edge include sharing the same religious persuasion as the school (five marks) and being a first-born child (five marks).

Those who do not get accepted in the first round face very low odds of getting a place at their preferred school in the second central allocation unless they live in its catchment area.

The system was started in 1982. It is criticised for putting grass-roots children with no special ties at a disadvantage, because the selection process makes having a connection with the school the dominant factor in the allocations.