So, the education bill will abolish the right of parents and students to complain to the local government ombudsman and instead replace it with a procedure via Michael Gove, the education secretary. Even worse, The chief school’s adjudicator’s powers to investigate and order changes to school admissions policies are being greatly reduced (despite the fact that that 92% of the 387 cases considered by Ian Craig last year were from parents) and compulsory admissions forums are to be scrapped, giving academies, faith schools and free schools the right to operate their own admission policies rather than those set by the local education authority across an area. On top of this, the government has still not published the new version of the admissions code.
I wonder whether this is just another example of Michael Gove’s “shambolic and chaotic department”? Or is it actually a deliberate attempt by the Education Secretary to encourage the government’s preferred schools – academies and free schools – towards a policy of covert selection to choose pupils who will conform to the school’s mission, whether that be faith, academic or otherwise. What is certain is that this bill will shift power away from parents in choosing school towards schools choosing pupils and parents.
The upshot will be that the most vocal and advantaged parents and children could get the exactly the type of education they want at the expense of the most vulnerable who will need the most help and support. The application and school system for the vast majority of parents is confusing enough as it is, without the government now creating more confusion by it’s lack of transparency over the admissions code and unable to persuade us how the vast number of academies and free schools are, in fact, really inclusive to all.