North Swindon families are going to be split up if the Swindon Education Partnership Board meeting on 24 February does not support their call for siblings to attend the same school.
Because of a lack of places, parents face the prospect of having to take one child to one school and another in the opposite direction.
In response to Swindon Council1s consultation school admissions for 2006 parents living in the Abbey Meads area formed NoSPEL – North Swindon Parents Education Lobby – to get their message across that brothers and sisters should be allowed to attend the same primary school.
NoSPEL, formed in November, sent out questionnaires to a large number of homes in North Swindon and gathered over 3,450 names on a petition to support a change in the oversubscription policy that all siblings of current children are given priority, regardless of whether they are in a school's catchment area.
The group says all the primary schools are within easy and safe walking distance of most homes in the area, and argue it is not fair to force parents to deliver children to different schools in order to allow another parent a slightly shorter journey with only one child.
They also say that Swindon Council has manipulated catchment areas to suit its own bureaucratic needs. In February's Link Alison Carr explained that her family moved into the Abbey Meads School catchment to find later her home had been redefined into the Penhill School catchment.
Gary and Catherine Wallage say many newcomers have been caught out. "We arrived in February 2003, after the admissions deadline and without local knowledge we happily accepted a place at Bridlewood for our son. No-one told us it was an out of catchment school. Bridlewood is full for 2007 and my daughter will have to attend Haydonleigh."
To try and find a way forward the parents have had meetings with North Swindon MP Michael Wills and Abbey Meads councillors Justin Tomlinson and David Renard but Swindon Education appears to be unmoved.
Several parents caught up in this confusion are trying to sell their homes to move closer to their desired primary school.
There will be more upheaval when two new primary schools are due to open in September 2006.
NoSPEL would like to hear from parents in a similar situation who have not been in touch yet. Contacts: Nicola Green, tel: 638159; Catherine Wallage, tel: 723460.