Parents back fairer and simpler school admissions codes
- Published on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 14:18
- Posted by Scott Buckler
More pupils will be able to attend the best schools in a new-look admissions system that will be fairer and simpler for all parents, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said today
Revised school admissions and appeals codes were published today following a 12-week consultation on proposals to overhaul the current system. The existing codes were too complex, confusing and unfair for parents. They undermined parental choice and rationed places at good schools. The consultation received more than 1,300 responses, 700 from parents who broadly welcomed the changes being made to the codes.
Today’s codes, published alongside the Department for Education’s response to the consultation, include two new proposals:
Streamlining the primary school place offer system by introducing a new “national offer day”. Currently different admissions authorities release primary school offers on different dates. This can confuse and frustrate parents, especially those making applications for school places in different local authorities. There is already a secondary school national offer day, on March 1 each year. The primary school day is set to be on April 16 each year, starting in 2014. A three-week consultation on the codes’ regulations, including this date, starts shortly.
Giving adopted children who were previously looked after (and children who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order) the same, highest priority for places as they had as looked-after children. This would benefit around 5,000 children each year. As well as providing ongoing support to children who had been in care, it could help speed up the adoption process. There is anecdotal evidence that some adoptive parents delay applying for the adoption order so they can take advantage of the priority given to children in care.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:
"A new National Offer Day for primary schools – as recommended by the Chief Schools Adjudicator – will introduce clarity and consistency in the system for hundreds of thousands of parents. Receiving offers on different days is confusing and stressful, especially for parents making cross-border applications to schools in neighbouring local authorities.
Children in care should continue to be given special priority in school admissions after they have been adopted, or leave care under a special guardianship or residence order. Many of these children have had traumatic experiences in their early lives. They don’t stop being vulnerable just because they are now in a loving home. This will also speed up some adoptions – we know that some adoption orders are delayed until a child has started school because priority currently ends when that child leaves care."
The revised codes contain half as many of the 650 existing mandatory requirements placed on admissions authorities and are significantly slimmer, at 61 pages long compared with the current 138 pages. Almost half of respondents to the consultation said the codes met the aims of greater transparency and simplification.