Fair school access for all children vital

Calls have once again been made for all admission authorities in England to comply fully with the Schools Admission Code, reports our feature writer Suzanne Danon.

In particular this surrounds admission authorities complying fully on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to promote fair access for all children.

The calls have been made by the Chief Schools Adjudicator Dr Elizabeth Passmore, who voiced concerns in her annual report last year that admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the Office of the Schools Adjudicators (OSA) work and accounted for 274 of the total of 351 new cases of all types referred to OSA.

Dr Passmore said: “This is my third annual report as Chief Adjudicator and it has been an extremely busy year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. There has been an increase in the number and variety of the cases referred to OSA and a trend towards increasingly complex cases.

“Our aim is to address often difficult and emotional disputes with professional and impartial application of the legislation and guidance that governs our work.”

She added that the application of fair access protocol procedures is again “mostly working effectively” in placing children in a school that “best meets their needs”, but to improve further fair access for all children to state-funded schools in England she has called for the following:

  • All admission authorities to 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 to 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 complying with the requirements that apply specifically to the sixth form.
  • Own admission authority schools to determine admission arrangements that comply fully with admissions law and the code, in particular they must not request prohibited information and must have arrangements that are reasonable, clear, objective and procedurally fair.

​What's your experience of school admissions? Is the fair access code working as it should?

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