Information about academy admissions and the role of the Department for Education (DfE).
Applies to England
Admission authorities had to determine their admissions arrangements for September 2023 entry by 28 February 2022. They must have published them on their website and have sent a copy to their local authority.
Academy trusts are their own admissions authority and must meet all the mandatory provisions of the School Admissions Code (the Code) except where variations have been written into their funding agreement to support fair access.
The checklist below reflects common subjects of challenge and complaint in relation to admissions by all types of school.
Requirements for notification and publication
|Paragraph of the code
|As their own admission authority, academy trusts are not required to consult on their Published Admission Number (PAN) where they propose either to increase or keep the same PAN
|1.42 and 1.43
|Admission authorities must consult when admission arrangements are changed or if they have not been consulted on within the last 7 years. Admission authorities must consult for a minimum period of 6 weeks and must take place between 1 October and 31 January in the determination year.
|Once admission authorities have determined their admission arrangements, they must notify the appropriate bodies and must publish a copy of the determined arrangements on their website displaying them for the whole offer year (the academic year in which offers for places are made)
|Admission authorities for faith schools must also send a copy of their arrangements to the body or person representing their religion or religious denomination
|Where an admission authority has determined a PAN that is higher than in previous years, they must notify the local authority that they have done so, and make specific reference to the change on their website
Clarity of definitions
|Paragraph of the code
|Admission authorities must take all reasonable steps to inform parents of the outcome of selection tests before the closing date for secondary applications on 31 October so as to allow parents time to make an informed choice of school - while making clear that this does not equate to a guarantee of a selective place
|The admission authority for the school must set out in its arrangements the criteria against which places will be allocated at the school when there are more applications than places and the order in which the criteria will be applied. All children whose statement of special educational needs (SEN) names the school must be admitted
|All schools must have over-subscription criteria for each relevant age group and the highest priority must be given, unless otherwise provided in the code, to looked after children and previously looked after children. Relevant age group means the age group at which pupils are or will normally be admitted to the school, for example reception, year 7 or year 12
|Admission arrangements must include an effective, clear and fair tie-breaker to decide between two applications that cannot otherwise be separated
|Admission authorities must state clearly in their arrangements what they mean by ‘sibling’ (for example whether this includes step siblings, foster siblings, adopted siblings and other children living permanently at the same address or siblings who are former pupils of the school)
|Catchment areas must be designed so that they’re reasonable and clearly defined
|If admission authorities decide to use social and medical need as an over-subscription criterion, they must set out in their arrangements how they will define this need and give clear details about what supporting evidence will be required (for example a letter from a doctor or social worker) and then make consistent decisions based on the evidence provided
|If the school is not oversubscribed, all applicants must be offered a place, with the exception of designated grammar schools
|Each relevant age group must have admission arrangements, including an admission number and over-subscription criteria. Some schools (for example schools with sixth forms which admit children into the sixth form) may have more than one relevant age group
Academies and free schools are able to accept in-year admission applications directly from parents.
An in-year admission application is one that is made outside of the normal time of transfer between schools, for example when a family moves house part way through a school year.
Local authorities are still required to co-ordinate admission applications in the normal admissions round.
By 31 August each year, academies must state on their website whether they will be receiving and deciding in-year applications or whether the local authority will be accepting in-year applications on its behalf.
Academies must state on their website whether they will be receiving and deciding in-year applications or whether the local authority will be accepting in-year applications on its behalf. Your academy can continue to use the local authority to co-ordinate in-year admission if this suits local circumstances better. If your academy decides to do this, the academy must inform the LA of this by 1 August.
Your academy must also:
- allocate places on the basis of the published over-subscription criteria
- inform local authorities of all applications and their outcome
- inform parents of their right of appeal against the refusal of a place
- comply with the code, paying particular attention to chapter 3
- participate fully in locally agreed fair access protocols
You can read more about fair access protocols and the Secretary of State’s powers to direct an academy to admit a child following an application from a local authority on GOV.UK.
Academy admission appeals
Any applicant refused a place at a maintained school or an academy has a right of appeal to an independent appeal panel established by the admission authority for that school. Admission authorities must have published their appeals timetable on their website by 28 February 2022.
Information about admission appeals can be found on GOV.UK.
Academy admission appeals complaints
Department for Education (DfE) receives any complaint made by an applicant about the way admissions appeals are carried out at academies, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools.
The Department for Education (DfE) has produced a series of guides to help admission authorities advise those involved with school admission appeals to understand their roles and responsibilities. We strongly advise you to read the guides and discuss them with your clerking service.
We have also produced anto help parents understand the types of admission appeals complaints the DfE can consider. We ask that clerks include a copy of this factsheet with the panel’s decision letter.