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Schools: Admissions

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of selection by ability in local authority areas with grammar schools on educational provision; and if he will make a statement. (201048)

The Secretary of State has not made a comprehensive assessment of the effects of selection by ability in local authorities with grammar schools. We remain opposed to selection by ability and legislation prevents admission authorities from introducing new selection of this type. Grammar and partially selective schools already selecting in this way at the beginning of the 1997/98 academic year may continue to do so, with decisions on whether individual schools should continue to do so being made at a local level. Parents may object to the Adjudicator about continuing partial selection, and mechanisms are in place to allow parents to vote to remove selection at grammar schools.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans his Department has to collect information on oversubscription criteria used by schools admissions authorities; and if he will make a statement. (201049)

The Secretary of State has asked the schools adjudicator to report to him on compliance with the statutory requirements on admissions, in respect of 2009 admission arrangements and annually thereafter. To inform his 2009 report, to be submitted to the Secretary of State on 1 September 2008, the adjudicator has written to all local authorities asking them to submit to him a full set of admission arrangements for all schools in their area, and their account of the legality, fairness and effectiveness of those arrangements. We will be tabling a government amendment to the Education and Skills Bill which would place a duty on local authorities to submit reports on school admissions to the schools adjudicator in future years which will assist him in producing future reports.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will place in the Library a copy of the legal advice his Department received on the publication of the school admissions review on 2 April 2008; and if he will make a statement. (201084)

It is essential that Government departments have access to high quality and comprehensive legal advice. This allows for decisions to be taken in a fully informed context. It is vital that Ministers and officials are able to consult lawyers in confidence in order to obtain effective legal advice in a forum which is conducive to a candid exchange of views and consideration and assessment of potential risks without fear of disclosure. Disclosure of legal advice is very likely to prejudice the Government’s ability to conduct its business effectively and to defend its legal interests, either by unfairly exposing its legal position to challenge or by reducing the reliance it can place on the advice it has received. For these reasons, disclosure of legal advice would not be in the public interest.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) for what reasons specialist schools are allowed to select up to 10 per cent. of pupils by aptitude; and if he will make a statement; (201091)

(2) what systems of assessment are used by schools which select by aptitude; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what guidance his Department has issued on selection by aptitude; how this differs from guidance issued on selection by ability; and if he will make a statement.

A school may select up to 10 per cent. of its intake by aptitude in prescribed subjects if the school considers it has a specialism, whether or not the school is a designated specialist school. It recognises the diversity of such schools, increases choices for parents and widens access to particular schools. We have published guidance in the school admissions code on aptitude selection which states that a child with aptitude is one who is identified as being able to benefit from teaching in a specific subject, or who demonstrates a particular capacity to succeed in that subject. Such selection is limited to subjects where there are recognised tests for aptitude which do not inadvertently identify high academic ability. Schools may also hold auditions or oral or practical tests to ascertain a child's aptitude. Prescribed subjects are modern foreign languages, performing or visual arts and physical education or sport. Schools may continue to select 10 per cent. by aptitude in design and technology and ICT if they already had such arrangements in place prior to the 2008 academic year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what proportion of secondary schools are fully or partially selective by ability; and if he will make a statement; (201092)

(2) pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2007, Official Report, columns 971-72W, on schools: admissions, which the 40 schools referred to are.

There are 164 schools designated as grammar schools under section 104 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. We do not collect the data on the proportion of secondary schools which are fully or partially selective by ability. The 40 schools which the Department are aware of which the hon. Member refers to in his question are shown in the following table.

LEA

School

1

Barnet

Mill Hill School

2

Bexley

Erith School

3

Birmingham

Ninestiles School

4

Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon C of E School

5

Croydon

Edenham High School

6

Riddlesdown High School

7

Archbishop Lanfranc

8

Shirley High School

9

Dorset

Budmouth Technology College

10

Dudley

Old Swinford Hospital School

11

Havering

Coopers’ Company and Coborn

12

Hertfordshire

Queens’ School

13

St. Clement Danes

14

Parmiter’s School

15

Dame Alice Owen

16

Rickmansworth

17

Watford Boys

18

Watford Girls

19

Kent

Homewood School

20

Archbishop’s

21

Chaucer

22

Westlands

23

Kingston

Holy Cross

24

Lancashire

Ripley St. Thomas C of E High

25

Lincolnshire

Spilsbury King Edward VI

26

Liverpool

Archbishop Blanch C of E High School

27

King David High School

28

St. Edward’s College

29

St. Hilda’s C of E High School

30

St. Margarets C of E High School

31

Peterborough

Kings School

32

Southampton

St. Anne’s Convent School

33

Southend

St. Bernard’s High School

34

St. Thomas More High School for Boys

35

Surrey

Roseberry Girls School

36

Wandsworth

Burntwood

37

Ernest Bevin

38

Chestnut Grove

39

Graveney

40

Warwickshire

Ashlawn School

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will require admissions forums to publish an annual report on the extent to which admissions arrangements in their areas are operating fairly; and if he will make a statement. (201095)

Legislation provides admission forums with a power to produce annual reports on the effectiveness of admission arrangements in their area, to feed into the School Commissioner’s biennial report to Parliament on fair access.

As part of our recent announcements to strengthen the school admissions framework and ensure more compliance with the School Admissions Code and admissions legislation, we published, on 2 April, draft amendments to the Education and Skills Bill for consideration at Commons Report to place a duty on local authorities to report annually to the Schools Adjudicator on the legality, fairness, and effectiveness of admission arrangements in their areas. This duty on local authorities is in line with their role to monitor compliance with the statutory admissions framework and their duty to ensure fair access to educational opportunity. Copies of these draft amendments are available in the House Library.

We also signalled that we will publish detailed proposals in the early summer to further strengthen the admission system, which will include improvements to admission forums.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what the role of the schools adjudicator is in monitoring and enforcing the code of admissions; and if he will make a statement. (201096)

The school's adjudicator considers objections to admission arrangements where the admission authority concerned fails to comply with the mandatory provisions of the school admissions code, or does not follow its guidelines. Local authorities have a duty to refer to the adjudicator the admission arrangements of any school if it appears to them that they do not comply with the law or the mandatory requirements of the code. The Secretary of State made a statement to Parliament on 2 April in which he outlined his proposals to extend the role of the schools adjudicator to ensure that all admission arrangements are legal, fair and effective.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) which local authorities use a system of authority-wide fair banding for school admissions; (201108)

(2) which 10 local authorities select the highest proportion of their secondary school children by ability; and what proportion of secondary school pupils were educated in selective schools in each of those authorities in the last year for which figures are available.

We do not collect the information asked; however Sheffield Hallam University carried out research into secondary school admissions for 2006 (published in January 2008) which showed only a small minority of schools use banding. Three local authorities Greenwich, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets had authority-wide banding. Sheffield Hallam found that the following 10 authorities select the highest proportion of their secondary school children by ability.

Total places

Selective places

Non-selective places

Percentage selective places

Percentage non-selective places

Trafford

3,066

1,200

1,866

39.14

60.86

Southend-on-Sea

2,178

750

1,428

34.44

65.56

Buckinghamshire

5,794

1,980

3,814

34.17

65.83

Slough

1,557

530

1,027

34.04

65.96

Kent

16,781

4,830

11,951

28.78

71.22

Bexley

3,451

991

2,460

28.72

71.28

Sutton

2,641

737

1,904

27.91

72.09

Medway

3,714

954

2,760

25.69

74.31

Lincolnshire

8,665

2,065

6,600

23.83

76.17

Poole

1,705

360

1,345

21.11

78.89

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what research he has commissioned on schools admission arrangements; and if he will make a statement; (201109)

(2) what research his Department has commissioned on the effects of selection by aptitude; what assessment he has made of the merits of such selection; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what research his Department has commissioned on the merits of selection by aptitude in the last three years; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what research his Department has commissioned on selection procedures in schools using partial selection in the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

The Department commissioned Sheffield Hallam university, in conjunction with the National Centre for Social Research, to undertake a comprehensive study of school admission arrangements in England. This study mapped the arrangements for all admission authorities of secondary schools and examined the experiences of parents and careers who applied for places in secondary schools for September 2006.

This report examines the major issues concerning school admissions, including regulation, coordination, oversubscription criteria (including banding, selection by attainment and selection by aptitude) and appeals. The full report was published in January 2008 and is available from the DCSF Research and Statistics Gateway:

http://www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools using faith-based criteria for admissions in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement; (201186)

(2) if he will make it his policy to collect information on the number of maintained schools which select by faith; and if he will make a statement.

The latest figures published by the Department show that in January 2007 there were 6,255 maintained primary schools and 587 maintained secondary schools designated by the Secretary of State as having a religious character. These schools are permitted to use faith-based oversubscription criteria in order to give higher priority to children who are members of, or practice, their faith. The Department does not collect information on how many of these schools do or do not use faith-based oversubscription criteria.

As signalled in our statement to the House on 2 April, we will be tabling an amendment to the Education and Skills Bill which would place a duty on local authorities to produce a report on school admissions, to be submitted annually to the Schools Adjudicator.

We intend for these reports to include information about the admission arrangements for schools in their area and this could include, in the case of schools designated as having a religious character, whether they give higher priority to children who are members of, or practice, their faith.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the level of intra-year pupil turnover at the 50 schools in England with the highest levels of intra-year pupil turnover in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (201189)

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what estimate he has made of the number of fully subscribed schools which have not been approved for expansion on the grounds of (a) neighbouring schools having surplus places and (b) unavailability of local authority capital funding. (201591)

School place planning is a local matter and it is for the local authority and individual schools to decide whether to consult on, and then publish, statutory proposals to expand a school. Following publication of any statutory proposals, the final decision would be taken by the local authority or schools adjudicator, or, prior to 25 May 2007, the local School Organisation Committee or schools adjudicator.

Since January 2003 statutory proposals to expand nine schools have been rejected. The Department does not maintain records of whether the schools were over-subscribed or the reasons for rejection and we have made no estimate of rejections due to neighbouring schools having surplus places or the unavailability of local authority capital funding. The Department has no information on other cases where a school, or local authority, have decided not to proceed to publish expansion proposals.

Each local authority is allocated significant amounts of capital through a range of different programmes that can be joined-up and used flexibly according to local priorities. Additional resources are also available through the new Primary Capital Programme and, through application, for the expansion of successful and popular schools from the Standards and Diversity Targeted Capital Fund. The Government have made it clear that the wishes of parents should be taken into account in planning school place provision and that they want to encourage successful and popular schools to expand to meet parental demand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many parental representations made to local authorities have been referred to his Department since the publication of Expanding a Maintained Mainstream School or Adding a Sixth Form: A Guide for Local Authorities and Governing Bodies in March 2008; and how many have been referred in the last 12 months. (201592)

No parental representations have been received since March 2008 and one has been received in the past 12 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools have more than 1,500 pupils, broken down by index of multiple deprivation decile. (201687)

The requested information is shown in the table:

All state funded secondary schools 1,2, Number and percentage of schools with more than 1,500 pupils by level of deprivation of school 3—Number of schools by Band. England, as at January 2007

Number of secondary schools with more than 1,500 pupils

Percentage of secondary schools with more than 1,500 pupils

Level of deprivation of school based on Index of Multiple Deprivation 2

0-10 most deprived

14

5.3

10-20

13

4.1

20-30

21

6.5

30-40

31

8.5

40-50

29

7.6

50-60

24

6.9

60-70

33

8.9

70-80

35

10.6

80-90

39

10.8

90-100 least deprived

49

14.4

All schools 3,4

288

8.5

1 Includes middle schools as deemed.

2 Includes local authority maintained secondary schools, City Technology Colleges and Academies.

3 2004 Indices of Multiple Deprivation at Super Output Area based on the location of the school.

4 Based on schools open at as January 2006.

Source:

School Census