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Schools' Admission Arrangements - How to Get Ready for the 2021 Intake

on Wednesday, 26 June 2019.

You will be aware that the lead-in time for changing your school's admissions arrangements is long, and in order to comply with statutory School Admissions Code 2014 (the Code), the consultation process must commence over 20 months before the September...

...when the relevant cohort will be admitted. In this article we set out a practical overview of the statutory requirements.

What are the Admission Authority's duties?

The Admission Authority is:

  • The Trust Board for academy trusts
  • The Governing Body for foundation and voluntary aided schools
  • The Local Authority for all other schools

The legal duties of Admission Authorities cannot be delegated to anyone else (with the exception of a Trust Board of a MAT, who can delegate duties to their Local Governing Bodies under a scheme of delegation or terms of reference).

Even if you buy into administrative admission services provided by the Local Authority, you are still under a duty to:

  • formally determine your school's admission arrangements every year
  • consult on any proposed variations
  • respond to admission appeals, and to the Schools Adjudicator in the event of an objection

When should schools determine their admission arrangements?

Admission arrangements must be formally determined on or before 28 February each year, even where they remain unchanged from the previous year.  

Any proposed variations must be consulted on for a minimum of 6 weeks between 1 October and 31 January. This means that if you want to change the admissions arrangements for September 2021, the time to start planning is now.

What should schools consider?

There are some fundamental questions that the admissions authority will need to address. These include:

  • are the admission arrangements compliant with the Code and other relevant law (eg Equality Act 2010, SEND Code of Practice)?
  • do the arrangements continue to work effectively for both the school and the local community?
  • if the school is part of a MAT, do the admissions arrangements work with the strategic aims of the MAT?

Are you complying with the Code?

There are a significant number of matters to consider when reviewing admission arrangements. The overarching ones are:

  • are they fair, clear and objective?
  • will parents be able to easily understand how places are allocated (as a rule of thumb, on being given just the policy and a pile of applications, parents should be able to correctly allocate all places)?
  • are all of the terms used properly defined (eg siblings, child's home address, distance measuring)?
  • does the policy contain all necessary information (eg twins/multiple births, children of Crown/Service personnel, admission outside normal age group, deferred entry, part-time attendance and delayed entry)?
  • what about the sixth form/nursery/SEN unit?
  • are all related forms (which form part of the admission arrangements) compliant (eg in-year/sixth form application form, SIF)?

How can we help you?

We can support you with all aspects of admission law, including:

  • carrying out a top line review of your admission arrangements to check for compliance
  • advising on proposed variations
  • supporting you in relation to the consultation and determination procedures
  • responding to objections to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator
  • judicial review proceedings (including the pre-action stage)

To discuss your school's admission arrangements, please contact Joanna Goddard in our Regulatory Compliance team on 0207 665 0805, or complete the form below.

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