There will almost certainly be a central enrolment system for all primary schools in Utrecht where parents have to register children who go to school for the first time. In this way, the municipality and school boards want to give all parents the same chance to have their child placed in a school of their preference. Now every school has its own registration form.
Especially highly educated parents in Utrecht often enroll their children much earlier than is allowed, so other children never get a place at a popular school. Primary schools violate the law because children are not allowed to be registered until they are three years old.
Popular primary schools were sometimes “fully booked” years in advance. A legislative amendment from 2014 should have put an end to this, but in practice the shadow lists remained in Utrecht.
“ As a result, parents are regularly referred to other schools,” says Guido Walraven of the Knowledge Centre for Mixed Schools, who conducted research on these shadow lists last year. “That can be a sincere advice, because the child is better in place there. But it can also be a kind of pre-selection, giving parents the feeling that their child is not welcome.”
The new registration system in Utrecht should prevent this from happening in future. Among others, the primary school domes SPO Utrecht (38 schools), Stichting PCOU (30 schools) and the Katholieke Scholenstichting Utrecht (24 schools) contribute to the proposed adaptation. The new approach is still being submitted to all schools and the city council and could start after the summer holidays.
“ Waitlists and pre-applications will soon be a thing of the past”, says the Utrecht alderman Anke Klein van Onderwijs. The central system allows parents to register their children for several primary schools. If there are more registrations than places, the children are first placed with priority. “Think of children who already have a brother or sister at that school.”
Already in use elsewhere
The new system in Utrecht will be the most centralized system to date, but it is not entirely new. Amsterdam, Nijmegen and Deventer are already working with a central application system, says Walraven of the Knowledge Centre for Mixed Schools.
Nijmegen is actively trying to create more mixed schools by looking at the background of pupils at waiting lists. “But that is the fourth criterion,” explains Walraven. “And as soon as they get there, all the children have already been given a place.”