The Chief Schools Adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, has today (16 January 2015) called again for all admission authorities in England to comply fully with the School Admissions Code on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to promote fair access for all children.
In her annual report for 1 September 2013 to 31 August 2014, Dr Passmore states that concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the OSA’s work and accounted for 274 of the total of 351 new cases of all types referred to OSA.
Dr Passmore concludes that the application of fair access protocol procedures is again mostly working effectively in placing children who do not have a school place in a school that best meets their needs, with very few instances of schools needing to be directed to admit children. However, to improve further fair access for all children to state-funded schools in England, Dr Passmore calls for:
- all admission authorities to comply with the requirements of the code in respect of consultation about; determination of; and publication of their full admission arrangements
- all schools that admit students new to the school to the sixth-form to comply with the general requirements of the code, including those for consultation, determination, having a published admission number for new students and publishing the arrangements, as well as complying with the requirements that apply specifically to the sixth-form
- own admission authority schools to determine admission arrangements that comply fully with admissions law and the code, in particular they must not request prohibited information and must have arrangements that are reasonable, clear, objective and procedurally fair
The Chief Schools Adjudicator said:
This is my third annual report as Chief Adjudicator and it has been an extremely busy year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. There has been an increase in the number and variety of the cases referred to OSA and a trend towards increasingly complex cases.
I would like to thank my team of adjudicators, administrative staff and legal advisers for the valuable work they do. Our aim is to address often-difficult and emotional disputes with professional and impartial application of the legislation and guidance that governs our work.
Notes to editors
- Read the Office of the Schools Adjudicator annual report: September 2013 to August 2014.
- Dr Elizabeth Passmore was appointed to the post of Chief Schools Adjudicator on 1 November 2011.
- There are currently 12 adjudicators, including the Chief Adjudicator. All are part time and paid only for the work they are asked to undertake.
- Adjudicators resolve differences over the interpretation and application of legislation and guidance on school admissions and statutory proposals concerning school organisation.
- In relation to all state-funded schools adjudicators:
- rule on objections to and referrals about determined school admission arrangements (each local authority is an admission authority and during the period of this report approximately 8,818 schools are their own admission authority)
- In relation to maintained schools adjudicators:
- decide on requests to vary admission arrangements
- resolve disputes relating to school organisation proposals
- resolve disputes on the transfer and disposal of non-playing field land and assets
- determine appeals from admission authorities against the intention of the local authority to direct the admission of a particular pupil
- The Chief Schools Adjudicator can also be asked by the Secretary of State to provide advice and undertake other relevant tasks.
- The Office of the Schools Adjudicator is a tribunal and until its abolishment in August 2013 was supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council. Once published decisions can only be challenged through the courts.
- Adjudicators do not deal with complaints from parents whose child has not been offered a place at a particular school.