Schools Admissions: An Update
We’re currently in the midst of consultation season for admissions authorities looking to amend their admission arrangements for September 2019.
In the middle of all this excitement, what better time to reflect upon the recent ‘The Office of the Schools Adjudicator’ (OSA) decision which considered whether it was discriminatory for a Church of England secondary academy to prioritise those applicants that were on the electoral roll of an Anglican church.
In this case, the complainant stated that she could demonstrate faith commitment and attendance at CofE services but could not put her name on the local village church electoral roll, which was one of the requirements of the academy’s admissions policy. She stated that this meant she could not meet the criteria set by the academy and that this meant the policy was discriminatory.
In applying the School Admissions Code 2014 (“the Code”), the OSA found that the policy properly applied faith-based criteria and it was clear for parents to understand. The academy was found to have complied with the requirements of the Code and the OSA therefore dismissed the referral.
It should be noted that the academy’s policy did not simply require that a parent was on the electoral roll of the local village church but offered a range of criteria in order to obtain a place at the school. It would be a surprise if the school had deliberately sought to exclude the admission of a child where faith commitment could be demonstrated, however, all oversubscribed schools must narrow down their admissions process in one way or another. Carefully drafted criteria which is compliant with the Code makes the selection process much easier for schools and in fact, leaves them less open to scrutiny.
All admissions authorities should be aware that the consultation period for amending admissions arrangements closes on 31 January 2018 and all proposals must be compliant with the Code. The OSA has also issued updated forms for both schools and objectors, please see the links below for these:
- For maintained schools and local authorities to request in-year variations to their admissions arrangements
If you would like further information on this topic, please get in touch with Laura Thompson.