Councils ‘not confident’ school admission rules are legal

Eight local councils are not confident that schools in their area have lawful admissions arrangements, according to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

In her annual report, Shan Scott said her findings were “concerning”, especially in light of the growing importance of councils’ role in objecting to schools’ admissions rules when they believe they break the law.

“As the number of schools for which a local authority is not the admission authority grows, so does the importance and scale of this task. It is concerning, therefore, that eight local authorities were not confident that the arrangements of all schools in their area were lawful,” the report said.

The organisation’s data also shows that while 686 sets of admission arrangements were queried across 63 local authority areas, 414 of those queries were raised by just seven local authorities.

This led the OSA to conclude that it is likely that in some parts of the country, “local authorities do not scrutinise arrangements adequately”, and has asked the Department for Education to emphasise the importance of this scrutiny to councils.

The report also reveals there has been a rise in the number of objections made to moves by secondary schools to choose their own “feeder” primary schools.

According to the OSA, these have tended to be upheld “where the selection of feeder schools, often at some distance from the school which has named them, has meant that children who live locally to the school who do not attend these feeder schools face a significantly longer or more difficult journey to alternative schools”.

The DfE should consider issuing new guidance to councils on the matter, the OSA said.

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  1. Peter Hills

    Every admission appeals interested party, be them a clerk, panel member, LA, OSA or parent / guardian, has ample time and opportunity before appeals to check admissions criteria via that school(s) website. Any questions or concerns regarding the lawfulness or probity of that school’s admission criterion / criteria can be discussed with the appropriate authority.
    Admission appeals panels function under the umbrella of the Courts, Tribunals and Enforcement Act where the clerk to appeals is responsible for the legal and procedural probity of the complete admission appeals process / exercise (save the actual panel decision)thus it is not only the LA that should have concerns regarding the lawfulness of admission criterion / criteria.
    Your ‘level of confidence’ figures show significant improvement 2014/2015 to 2015/2016.