Press release

Parents to get greater say in the school admissions process

New rules will also stop complaints against faith schools from secularist campaign groups.

The government will sweep away admissions bureaucracy and ensure parents have more of a say in the school admissions process so they can be confident the system works for them, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced today (25 January 2016).

The school admissions code is now simpler and easier for parents to understand than ever before. Under new plans the government wants to ensure every child has access to the good school place their parents rightly expect and is taking further action to simplify the school admission system and ensure it works for parents by:

  • unclogging the admissions system by stopping objections to a school or local authority’s admissions arrangements from outside the local area - this means only local parents will have a say on admissions and helps local authorities to ensure they are fair
  • stopping vexatious complaints against faith schools from secularist campaign groups
  • giving parents and communities a greater voice in local admissions by requiring admissions authorities to consult on their admission arrangements every 4 years rather than the current 7

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

As part of our mission to deliver educational excellence everywhere, we want every child to have the opportunity to go to a good local school by making it easier for parents to have a say in their local school’s admission process.

So that parents can be confident that the school admission process is working for them - we are ensuring only local parents and councils can object to admission arrangements, which will also put a stop to vexatious complaints against faith schools by secularist campaign groups. At the same time we will be giving parents a greater voice by requiring admission authorities to consult every 4 years.

Despite rising pupil numbers, 95% of parents received an offer at 1 of their top 3 preferred schools last year. Local authorities are responsible for making sure that there are enough places in local areas, and the government will consider intervening where local authorities are not playing their part in ensuring these places are available.

Nicky Morgan added:

Our manifesto commitment to create 500 new free schools will significantly broaden the choice available to local parents, and improve the supply of good quality places.

Notes to editors

  1. All admission authorities must, when drawing up their admission arrangements, ensure that the practices and criteria used to decide the allocation of places are fair, clear and objective and that they comply with the school admissions code. The school admissions code is now simpler and easier for parents to understand than ever before.
  2. In some cases, parents from outside the local area are making objections purely in the hope that their child might get a place at their preferred school, not because of a problem with the admission arrangements themselves. Additionally secular campaign groups have targeted faith school admissions as part of a particular agenda. We plan to put a stop to this by restricting who can object to school admissions arrangements to local parents and the local authority.
  3. Under the current rules admission authorities must set (‘determine’) admission arrangements annually. Where changes are proposed to admission arrangements, the admission authority must first publicly consult on those arrangements. If no changes are made to admission arrangements, they must be consulted on at least once every 7 years, to ensure admissions arrangements continue to meet local needs. We intend to change the rules to require admissions authorities to consult on their admission arrangements every 4 years rather than the current 7.
  4. We will be conducting a full public consultation on the proposed changes in due course.
  5. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring there are sufficient school places in their area. They can use basic need funding to provide places in new schools or expansions of existing schools, and can work with any school in their local area, including academies and free schools.
  6. We doubled basic need funding to local authorities for new school places to £5 billion between 2011 and 2015, which helped to create half a million new school places in maintained schools and academies since May 2010. This helped to correct the decline of over 200,000 places between 2004 and 2010. We have also committed to spend £7 billion on new school places in this parliament.
  7. In 2015, 95.9% received an offer at one of their top 3 preferred primary schools. (87.8% were offered their top preference primary school).

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