Education secretary Nicky Morgan has announced a package of school admissions reforms, including a reduction in the time between a school’s renewal of its arrangements from 7 years to 4 years.
Under the plans the government says it wants to “ensure every child has access to the good school place their parents rightly expect”. It claims the changes will ensure the system “works for parents”.
The plans released in a press notice today are:
– Stopping objections to admissions rules from people who live outside a school’s “local area”
– Barring “vexatious” secularist groups from raising complaints about admissions at faith schools
– Changing the renewal period on admissions arrangements, as determined either by the local authority or school, from 7 years down to 4 years.
The changes follow a report by the Fair Admissions Campaign last October, in conjunction with the British Humanist Association, describing “near-universal non-compliance” with admissions rules in faith schools.
The group objected to the admissions rules of 47 faith schools and had their complaints upheld in all but one case.
However Paul Barber of the Catholic Education Service said at the time that the complexity of legal requirements faced by faith schools meant most breaches were caused by “unintended admin errors”.
In recent months the admissions campaign group highlighted a Jewish school including a ‘purity test’ for parents in its selection criteria. While last year Schools Week revealed how the school where the Prime Minister sent his daughter also appeared to be breaking admissions rules.
Under the plans, parents outside of a “local area” will also be prevented from complaining about admissions. It is not yet known how local area will be defined.
Some schools, particularly University Technical Colleges, have local catchment areas of over 90 miles and cover several local authorities.