Is the Coalition proposing drastic changes to school admissions?

Fiona Millar's picture
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Amidst all the build up to the Comprehensive Spending Review, this worrying document was slipped on to the website of the Association of Directors of Children's Services. Produced by the Conservative controlled Local Government Association, it proposes a making every school its own admissions authority with power to set and manage admissions criteria, and the removal of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator( who currently polices the Code of Practice on Admissions on behalf of parents and others) and giving its powers to local authorities.

Will this make our school system fairer? Probably not. Most of the research already done in this area by organisations like the Sutton Trust, suggests that there is a lot of covert/social selection going on at the moment, usually by schools that are their own admissions authorities. Does anyone have evidence of local authorities in their areas seeking to correct this? Probably not again , since councils are usually unwilling to tackle the schools that are popular and successful evenĀ  if they are partly so because they are using sneaky own school banding systems, faith criteria and clever catchment areas.

The Coalition has been strangely silent on admissions, talking vaguely of simplifying the Admissions Code, binding all free schools and academies into that, although it is not clear how they would be forced to comply since they lie outside the remit of their local authorities and the Schools Adjudicator. The fact that this document has appeared now should concern us all. Schools should have more autonomy in some areas but NOT on admissions. And parents should have an independent adjudicator to whom they can go with complaints and concerns about what is going on in their local community.

I have written a longer blog on this here.
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