Soap’s cheating Mum reveals flaw in schools admissions. Should Adjudicator intervene?

Janet Downs's picture
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Up in Emmerdale, Nicola King wants daughter Angelica to attend an oversubscribed church school. But there are two problems: Nicola lives outside the school’s catchment area and she doesn’t attend church. So, like many a cheating parent anxious to maximise a child’s chance of being admitting to a popular school, Nicola tells a couple of lies.

First, she says she lives at her employer’s address, Home Farm, which is nearer the school and is higher up the social ladder than her home in the village. Second, she forges a letter from the local Vicar saying she’s a committed Christian.

But her plan backfires when the school says it wants to interview Nicola and Angelica in the home environment. All goes well when she pretends to be Lady of the Manor but her plot unravels when the Vicar discovers the forgery.

But was the school within its rights to interview mother and child? The Schools Admission Code makes it quite clear: schools must not interview children or parents.

So could Nicola complain to the Schools Adjudicator?

It depends on whether the school has published its Admissions Policy for 2014/15. All schools should have done so by now but many have not. And the Schools Adjudicator won’t intervene unless the Admission Policy is for 2014/15.

It would appear that schools could produce an Admissions Policy which flouts the Code and no-one could complain if the Policy is not dated 2014/15. There’s little chance of complaining to the Adjudicator by the deadline of 30 June 2013 if the school delays long enough and then merely changes the date on a flawed Admissions Policy.

Of course, the Adjudicator can look at complaints after 30 June but it’s possible that schools could delay implementing required changes until parents had given their preferences for September 2014 admission. That way, the school may have deterred certain parents by implying that their child stands little chance of admission. For example, the school could say they give priority to children at a fee-paying, independent school or to children of parents who clean the church. Or schools may neglect to say that children with statements naming the school must be admitted. Or distance criteria may be unclear – so unclear that it puts off applications from outside the more affluent areas.

So it appears that the popular church school near Emmerdale can continue flouting the Code as long as its published Admissions Criteria is out-of-date. This potential plot line looks as if it will lead nowhere.

Unless, of course, the rep from the Adjudicator’s Office is young, good-looking and unattached…

 

 

DISCLAIMER I emailed the Office of the Schools Adjudicator three times for confirmation that it wouldn’t take action if an out-of-date Policy flouted the Code. I have not received a reply. If my assumptions are wrong I will publish an update on this thread.

I have now received a reply from OSA.  It confirms that "It is not within the remit of the Schools Adjudicator to consider compliance to these requirements [for schools to determine arrangements for 2014/15 by 15 April and publish them on their websites]."  So, it appears that no action will be taken if schools don't determine and publish their up-to-date Admissions Criteria on time.

 
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