School Admission Rules
In February of 2007 the new School Admissions Code came into being to provide a more balanced and fair way of allocating places at schools throughout the United Kingdom.
We know that the school admissions process can be a minefield for the uninitiated so here we present an overview which will hopefully make the process that little less stressful.
The new admissions code has been brought into being to prevent schools from carrying out certain practices which up until the beginning of 2007 might have gone unnoticed by parents but been operated by schools.
For example the admissions code, which applies to primary and secondary schools within the mainstream schooling system, bans schools and local education authorities from assessing parents’ employment, financial, marital and/or social status.
It also gives schools discretion to allocate places to children who do not live within the catchment area but who can be assessed on other merits such as their ability and/or examination results.
A Fairer Approach?School admissions are normally judged on the basis of location – i.e. does your child live within the catchment area on a ‘as the crow flies’ route, medical and special needs requirements and certain other criteria including exam results if they wish to enter a grammar school.
Of course now that the School Admissions Code has come into being, these things still apply but the schools are also encouraged to allocate places to a wider spectrum of the community and not just those who identify a particular school as a first choice school or simply because of their locale.
This is sometimes called a ‘lottery’ and has been the source of much contention between community groups and parents alike but it would seem that this might be the fairest way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to have their child placed at the school of their choice.
Indeed one of the things the School Admissions Code does do is permit certain schools with a higher popularity than others to randomly select from a list of applicants those children who they wish to allocate a place to.
This may seem unfair in some cases but, for the most part, it would appear to be proving popular and giving perhaps children from underprivileged or underachieving areas of the community the opportunity to fair better whereas before they might have been forced to attend a school that might not have suited their needs.
A More Structured Placement ProcessThere are other factors that the new School Admissions Code has brought into effect that can offer local education authorities and schools alike a more structured approach to the placement process, including the Sibling Factor which allows for the younger brothers and sisters of children already in attendance at a particular school to be given priority for a place. This new ruling now also applies to around 10% of the schools in the United Kingdom who select their pupils on the basis of ability – around 36 schools in total at the present time.
Also the new rules allow for the provision of places for children outside the catchment area such as those with special needs requirements, medical conditions, the children of those seeking asylum and also the children of service personnel who may be required to move from place to place at irregular intervals.
Although these new school admissions rules are all encompassing it is still worth while contacting the school(s) of your choice and their corresponding local education authorities just to make sure that all is as it should be before you make an application for your child’s place.