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School admissions

Academies, MATs & Schools

 

Admissions code - legal advice and support for schools

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The School Admissions Code 2021 (Code) sets out who is the 'admission authority' for each school. In community and voluntary controlled schools, it is the Local Authority. In foundation and voluntary aided schools, it is the Governing Body. In academy trusts, it is the Trust Board.

Our experienced lawyers can advise you on every aspect of admissions, including:

  • reviewing, developing and advising on the preparation of admission agreements

  • handling objections to admission agreements

  • applications under the Fair Access Protocol (FAP)

  • advising on admission appeals

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Admission agreements

Admission authorities are required to 'determine' a set of 'admission arrangements' (ie Admission Policy and other related documents such as in-year/sixth form application forms and supplementary information forms) for each school every year on or before 28 February, and consult on any changes proposed from the previous year. Once determined, admission arrangements may only be varied in prescribed circumstances. Our experienced lawyers can help you with these tasks by:

  • reviewing the current admission arrangements for the school for compliance with the Code and other relevant law

  • preparing a new set of fully compliant, fair, clear and objective admission arrangements for the school

  • advising on the processes for determination, and consultation (including who must be consulted, how long this must last and what must be published)

  • advising on how to vary determined admission arrangements, including when Secretary of State consent is required and how to secure this

Objections

Once determined, anyone can object to the admission arrangements to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator on or before 15 May. The objection will be allocated to a Schools Adjudicator who will contact the school seeking information about the admission arrangements and the processes that were followed, as well as the Local Authority seeking statistical data and their views. Our lawyers can help you with this by:

  • advising on the objection, and any other areas of non-compliance in the admission arrangements

  • preparing a draft formal response from the school to the Schools Adjudicator

  • advising on and preparing a response to any further representations received from the objector(s) and/or local authority while the objection is ongoing

  • advising on the School Adjudicator's decision and what, if any, action needs to be taken as a result, once it is published

Applications under the Fair Access Protocol (FAP)

Parents have a right to apply for a place at any school of their choice at any time. There are also other ways in which children are admitted to schools, such as under the FAP, or where the school has been named in Section I of the child's education, health and care plan (EHC plan). Our lawyers can assist you with this by:

  • advising on in-year applications for admission, including how and when they may be refused

  • advising on proposed placements under the FAP

  • advising on a consultation for the school to be named in an EHC plan, including helping the school prepare its consultation response (see our Special Educational Needs and Disability page for more information)

  • advising on the parental right to defer taking up a place in reception year (and/or deciding their child will attend part-time) and the right to delay entry for a whole school year in the case of 'summer born children'

  • advising on parental requests for admission outside normal age group

Admission appeals

Any parent who is refused a place at a school has a statutory right of appeal before an Independent Admission Appeal Panel. The admission authority is responsible for making the arrangements for this. Our lawyers can help by:

  • advising on the admission appeal process, including any statutory timeframes

  • advising on the evidence that must be presented by the school's Presenting Officer to the Admission Appeal Panel (including the School's case for prejudice)

  • advising the Presenting Officer on their role at the Admission Appeal Hearing

  • reviewing contracts/service level agreements for sub-contracting out the administrative arrangements for appeals to others (including Local Authorities)

Schools who want to physically expand, reduce in size, merge with another school or de-amalgamate to become two schools will need to consider the impact on their admissions. Our lawyers can assist with specialist advice in this respect, including whether an application for 'significant change' consent from the Secretary of State is required.


 For specialist advice on any aspect of school admissions, please contact Joanna Goddard on 0207 665 0805 for an initial discussion.

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Meet the Team

We provide academies with experienced education lawyers who are always on hand to give practical solutions to problems and the confidence to react positively to opportunities.

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Yvonne Spencer - Partner & Education Lawyer in London - VWV Law Firm
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