A RIBBLE Valley primary school’s admissions policy has been branded ‘unduly restrictive’ by a leading borough councillor.

Coun Terry Hill criticised Whalley CE Primary School’s position to favour children who attend the parish church over other Christians, other faiths and those of no faith.

The Whalley councillor said parents of children at the school had contacted him with ‘serious concerns’ over the issue.

The recently-updated policy, which is published on the school’s website, states that ‘children who have a parent/guardian worshipping in Whalley Parish Church’ will be favoured over ‘children who have a parent/guardian worshipping in Whalley Methodist Church or the Roman Catholic Church of English Martyrs or Ebenezer Baptist Church, Billington’.

The policy, which affects admissions for this coming academic year, also states that ‘children who have a parent/guardian worshipping in a church in full membership of Churches Together in England or Evangelical Alliance’ will then be considered before ‘children whose parents/guardian live within the area served by the school alone’ and then ‘other children’.

The school has around 262 children on roll, with 39 children, one under the maximum, due to start there in September.

Coun Hill said: “This policy is unduly restrictive.

“I share the concerns of those parents who have talked to me about this issue.

“It will put pressure on them at a time when competition for places is rising.

“I can see the church’s point of view but this will affect parents in the village. This could also increase the number of parents who just go to church to make sure their child gets into the school, without really wanting to be there.”

The school’s chairman of governors, David Borland, said there had not been a ‘huge response’ to a public consultation over the change. He added: “We are between a rock and a hard place, trying to balance the church and the community’s wishes.

“The school is not oversubscribed for this coming year so there is not a problem with people missing out. The governing body has to look at the whole picture and that is what we have done.”