Find homes where the local school is not full up

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We can see the sense in giving priority to children from armed forces families when applying for school places in Portsmouth.

If you’re in the services and get redeployed or promoted to a job in the city, you need to be able to find places for your children to be taught somewhere.

But in some cases, particularly if a job move is at short notice and happens during term-time, that can prove difficult.

Now, under new proposals from the city council, it would investigate if youngsters with parents in the army, navy or air force could be defined as ‘hard to place’ children.

This would mean they would then be fast-tracked through the admissions process to find them a school.

The recommendation has been backed by the majority of the city council. Now the Admissions Forum – a body made up of councillors, parents and teachers – will look at the feasibility of changing the system.

We realise there will be other parents out there, who have lost out on school places, who will not agree with such a scheme. They may well see the children of service families being squeezed into schools ahead of their children as unfair.

But as Tory education spokesman Cllr Steve Wemyss points out, the city council already gives priority to certain children, such as those expelled from other schools or children of asylum-seekers.

In a services city, why shouldn’t children who arrive here because of a parental posting get the same treatment?

The solution could be to ensure as far as possible that the accommodation provided for all these people is found in areas of the city where the local school is not over-subscribed.

That applies to the Ministry of Defence in the case of service personnel and to the Home Office, which places asylum-seekers in Portsmouth while their applications are considered.

That way, there would be no knock-on effect on other families and no grounds for any accusations of iniquity.