I made a statement on 11 March in which I set out concerns about compliance with the school admissions code and admissions legislation, based on an internal review of the published admission arrangements of schools in a sample of three local authorities. I explained that my Department was verifying the findings with the local authorities and schools concerned, and that we would present the detailed information to Parliament once we had given them the opportunity to respond.
I have today passed the results of this exercise onto the schools adjudicator to inform the work he is doing to ensure full compliance with all statutory requirements for admissions in 2009. A copy of my letter and a report including tables summarising the results of this exercise have been placed in the Library of the House.
I have also today published draft amendments to the Education and Skills Bill for consideration at Commons Report. The effect of the amendments will be to require local authorities to report to the schools adjudicator on admission arrangements in their areas; to extend the adjudicator’s powers so that he can act where he considers that any admission arrangements are not compliant with the statutory requirements; and to improve the process of consultation on admission arrangements in order to ensure that parents and communities can contribute to the development of admissions policies for their schools. Copies of the draft amendments have been placed in the Library of the House.
We are publishing today a step-by-step guide to the admissions and appeal processes for parents. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. The guide contains straightforward advice for parents on all aspects of choosing a school place for their child, and sets out what they can do if they have concerns about the legality of a school’s admission arrangements. A copy of this guide will be made available for every parent applying for a school place in 2009.
My Department will publish further detailed proposals in the early summer to improve the application and allocation process for parents and to further strengthen the admission system so that it works for all children. This will include an improved process for ensuring that parents and communities are consulted on admission arrangements for their schools and improvements to admission forums.
The steps I have taken today will help ensure that every parent has a fair chance of getting their child a place at a school of their choice, and that no parent or child will be disadvantaged by unfair admission arrangements.