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Schools: Admissions

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will review the 10 per cent. target threshold for surplus places for (a) all schools and (b) rural schools; and if he will make a statement. (185819)

The hon. Member refers to our guidance to local authorities on developing a primary strategy for change. There are no plans for reviewing the guidance.

We need to ensure that local authorities are able to provide good value for money for their communities, allowing them to invest in higher standards and better facilities for pupils. One aspect of securing good value for money is taking early and decisive action to balance the demand and supply of school places, but we recognise that the extent and nature of local authority plans will depend on local circumstances.

The guidance on preparing primary capital strategies must be read in its entirety. It explains that authorities should allow scope for parental choice, support schools with high standards, ensure schools are accessible to pupils, and take account of possible future increases in pupil numbers due to demographic changes. It also recognises that in order to preserve access for young children, there may be more empty places in schools in rural areas than in urban areas.

The guidance asks authorities to put in place decisive plans for early action to ensure that no school has more than 25 per cent. surplus places, and I anticipate that local authorities will make these plans sensitively taking account of my recent letter which has been placed in the House Library. The 10 per cent. benchmark relates to surplus capacity across the whole primary school estate of a local authority, and not to individual schools. We want local authority strategies to set out how surplus places across the authority as a whole will be managed down over time although there is no fixed timescale.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in England operate as their own admissions authority; (186231)

(2) how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in England have their admissions managed by (i) local authorities and (ii) other bodies.

Local authorities are the admission authority for community and voluntary controlled schools. Governing bodies are the admission authority for voluntary aided and foundation schools. Academies and city technology colleges also determine their own admission arrangements in line with the requirements of the admissions code and admissions taw. The following table provides details of the number of schools in each category. Local authorities may delegate responsibility for determining the admission arrangements of community and voluntary controlled schools to individual school governing bodies, but we do not collect information centrally about the number of cases in which responsibility is delegated.

Admission authorities usually manage the process of considering applications for places themselves, but the governing body of a school which is its own admission authority may ask another body, including the local authority, to do so on their behalf. Again, we do not collect information centrally about the number of cases in which this happens.

Maintained primary and secondary schools1: number of schools by category, January 2007, England

Number of schools

Primary

Secondary

LA Admission Authority Schools

13,268

2,225

Of which:

Community

2,542

2,112

Voluntary Controlled

10,726

113

Admission Authority Schools

4,093

1,174

Of which:

Voluntary Aided

3,731

554

Foundation

362

564

CTCs and Academies

n/a

56

n/a = not applicable

Source:

School Census