Some admission authorities will have consulted on proposed changes to the admission arrangements for their school, and will therefore need to consider all responses received, before they can move on to determination.
This duty falls to the admission authority itself (ie the academy trust in a single or multi-academy trust, the governing body of a foundation or voluntary aided school, or the local authority for a community or voluntary controlled school). Some or all statutory tasks, however, can be delegated to a local governing body and/or admission committee of trustees and/or governors (referred to as the "Committee" hereafter). These statutory tasks cannot, however, be delegated to school staff, including the Headteacher.
Before considering the responses received during consultation, the Committee should ensure that they are provided with all responses received. This is because the Committee must consider comments made by consultees, rather just the numbers for or against a proposed change. A single comment could point out an error, highlight an unforeseen and unintended unfairness, or make a sensible suggestion, which may require action before the admission arrangements are finalised ahead of determination.
The Committee must keep in mind that key changes that have not been consulted on cannot be made. For example, a feeder school could not be named just because several consultees asked for this - this would need to wait until the next consultation window opens on 1 October 2021. Tweaks to wording due to responses received or suggestions made by consultees may be made, as long as they do not fundamentally change how or to whom places are allocated. This can be fairly nuanced, and we would encourage Committees to seek legal advice if they are unsure whether an amendment can potentially be made in a lawful way without explicit consultation.
Once all responses have been considered, the Committee must decide what, if any, of the proposed changes to proceed with, whether there are any last-minute amendments to make (taking into account the information provided above) and then finalise the admission arrangements before they can be formally determined. The term 'admission arrangements' includes not only Admission Policies, but all admission-related documents such as catchment area maps, supplementary information forms, faith certificates, and in-year/sixth form application forms.
The consideration of responses, and the act of determining the final admission arrangements, must be carefully minuted. These minutes will be requested by a Schools Adjudicator if an objection is lodged, and could be evidence relied on at an admission appeal and/or judicial review proceedings. Once determined, a copy of the admission arrangements must be sent to the school's local authority (by 15 March 2021) and published on each school's website, along with the admission arrangements for the previous intake.
Although not an explicit legal requirement, the Committee may want to consider preparing a decision notice setting out an outline of the responses received, the decisions it made and the reasons for these, and publishing this alongside the determined admission arrangements. This is particularly the case where there were a number of proposed changes, some changes were adopted and others weren't, or the consultation was contentious in any way.