Schools urged to follow admissions code

Published on Monday, 02 December 2013 10:33
Written by Daniel Mason

The Chief Schools Adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, has called again for all admission authorities in England to comply fully with the Admissions Code on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to ensure fair access for all children.

In her annual report for 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013, Dr Passmore states that overall admission authorities have responded promptly to changes in the 2012 Admissions Code by amending their arrangements to give the highest priority as the first oversubscription criterion to both looked-after children and previously looked-after children.

Concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the OSA's work and accounted for 162 of the total of 212 cases of all types referred to the OSA. Objections to admission arrangements increased a little this year but the figure of 162 cases represents less than 2% of admission authorities.

Dr Passmore concludes that the application of fair access protocol procedures is again mostly working effectively in placing children who do not have a school place in a school that best meets their needs. However, to improve further fair access for all children to state-funded schools in England, Dr Passmore calls for:

  • all admission authorities must comply with the requirements of the Code in respect of consultation about; determination of; and publication of their full admission arrangements
  • all schools that admit students new to the school to the sixth form should ensure they comply with the general requirements of the Code, including those for consultation, determination, having a published admission number for new students and publishing the arrangements as well as those that apply specifically to the sixth form
  • the Department for Education should ensure that there is clear guidance for new schools and those that change their status to become their own admission authority about the requirements and timetable to be followed concerning admission matters
  • the Department for Education should consider issuing guidance for schools and local authorities so that there is fair access to schools for all children on reaching compulsory school age so that children are not disadvantaged by any decision their parents make about the care of their children prior to compulsory school age or by access to specific child care

The Chief Schools Adjudicator said:

"This is my second annual report since taking up post as Chief Adjudicator and it has been another busy year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. There has been considerable variety in the cases referred to us and a trend towards increasingly complex cases.

"I would like to thank my team of adjudicators, administrative staff and legal advisers for the valuable work they do. Our aim is to address often difficult and emotional disputes with our professional and fair application of the legislation and guidance available to us."

Source: Office of the Schools Adjudicator

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