New admissions regulations and codes

January 11th, 2012

I posted in November 2011 that the Department had published the new admissions code and admissions appeals code in draft. On 1 December the Codes were laid before Parliament and, subject to the views of Parliament, will come into force on 1 February 2012, affecting the 2013/14 admissions intake.

The Government laid three draft Regulations before Parliament yesterday, which all relate to admissions and, again subject to the views of Parliament, will come into force on 1 February 2012:

The first set of Regulations are the School Admissions (Admission Arrangements and Co-ordination of Admission Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/8. They consolidate, with amendments, the School Admissions (Admission Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2008, the School Admissions (Co-ordination of Admission Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2008, and the School Admissions (Local Authority Reports and Admission Forums) (England) Regulations 2008. They cover the following topics:

  • Selection;
  • Priority for looked after children;
  • Consultation on admission arrangements. The explanatory note states that “There is a new provision (regulation 14) that exempts schools that are their own admission authorities from having to consult on a proposal to increase or to keep the same admission number (the number of pupils they intend to admit). Admission authorities which are the local authority (for community and voluntary controlled schools) are required to consult the school’s governing body where they propose to increase or keep the same number. The period over which a consultation is not required when there has been no change to the admission arrangements is increased from 3 to 7 years (regulation 15). An increase to the admission number or a change made to comply with a mandatory requirement of the School Admissions Code or these Regulations is not a change that would require a consultation (a local authority, as admission authority, would consult the governing body of community or voluntary controlled school if they proposed an increase to the number as set out above). During a consultation admission authorities are required to publish their proposed admission arrangements on their website where they have one, and send copies on request to the people or bodies listed in regulation 12 (regulation 16). Consultation must last at least 8 weeks and be completed by 1st March. For admission arrangements for academic year 2014-2015 and subsequent years consultation must commence no earlier than 1st November 2012 (regulation 17).
  • Publication of admission arrangements;
  • Variation of determined admission arrangements;
  • Reference of objections to the adjudicator. Note that these provisions apply to both maintained schools and academies. The explanatory note states that “Objections that may not be referred include an objection regarding a decision to increase or keep the same admission number (though in relation to community and voluntary controlled schools the governing body, where it is not the admission authority, may object to an increase or no change to its admission number) and an objection to an agreement between the Secretary of State and the proprietor of an Academy that the admission arrangements for an Academy may vary from the School Admissions Code in an Academy’s funding agreement (Academy arrangement) (regulation 21). Provision is made restricting the referral of an objection regarding the same or substantially the same issue at a maintained school or Academy that has already been determined by the adjudicator within a two year period for that maintained school or Academy (regulation 22); for time limits for objections (regulation 23); for prohibiting anonymous objections (regulation 24); and requiring the information listed (in Schedule 1) to be provided by an admission authority when requested by the adjudicator (regulation 25).
  • Co-ordination of admission arrangements. The explanatory notes states that “The qualifying scheme will co-ordinate the applications made in the course of a normal admission round (applications for a normal year of entry, made according to the annual timetable for applying to primary and secondary schools) and late applications (applications for the normal year of entry, made outside the course of a normal admission round but before the first school day of the academic year). There is no requirement to co-ordinate in-year applications for 2013 and subsequent years. Provision is made for the actions to be taken by the local authority in formulating a scheme, including consultation where the qualifying scheme is substantially different to the scheme adopted for the previous academic year or where it is 7 years since the last consultation (regulation 27); for a local authority to inform the Secretary of State whether they have secured the adoption of a qualifying scheme by 15th April (regulation 28); and for the Secretary of State to impose a scheme if no such qualifying scheme has been adopted (regulation 29). Regulation 30 prescribes 1st March for secondary schools and 16th April for primary schools as the dates (the offer date) on which an offer must be sent to a parent regarding their child’s primary or secondary school place. Sections 496 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 are applied to a local authority or a governing body as if any obligations imposed under a qualifying scheme were imposed under that Act (regulation 32).”
  • Adding the clerk to an appeal panel as a relevant person for the purposes of section 88Q (relevant persons who must provide information to a local authority); and
  • Listing the representatives of the religions and religious denominations for schools designated as having a religious character.

These Regulations mainly apply in relation to arrangements under which pupils are admitted to schools in England for the academic year 2013-2014 and subsequent years.  The exception is that the provision for the co-ordination of admissions only applies to arrangements for admission to schools in England for the academic year 2014-2015 and subsequent years. In respect of objections to admission arrangements, the Regulations apply to both schools and Academies.

The second set of Regulations are the School Admissions (Appeals Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/9. These Regulations are short and only prescribe the manner in which an appeal panel is to be constituted (regulation 5 and the Schedule) and the payment of allowances to appeal panel members by the body or bodies responsible for making the arrangements in respect of financial loss, and travel and subsistence expenses (regulation 6). The explanatory note states that “These Regulations revoke and replace the Education (Admission Appeals Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2002 and two sets of Regulations that amended them. Those Regulations provided for matters of procedure and decision making in appeals and imposed duties to advertise for lay members and train and indemnify panels. Those provisions are not replicated in these Regulations as such matters are provided for in the School Admission Appeals Code issued by the Secretary of State under section 84 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. These Regulations condense provisions of the previous Regulations relating to the composition of appeal panels, and permit panels to consist of any number of members provided there are at least three (the Schedule).” The Regulations apply to appeals lodged on or after 1 February 2012.

The third and final set of Regulations are the School Admissions (Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/10. They revoke and replace the Education (Infant Class Sizes) (England) Regulations 1998 and the Education (Infant Class Sizes) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, adding new categories of excepted pupils and changing the circumstances in which pupils cease to be excepted.The limit imposed is a maximum of 30 pupils in an infant class at any time while an ordinary teaching session is conducted by a single school teacher (or, where the session is conducted by more than one school teacher, a maximum of 30 pupils for every teacher). This limit applies in relation to the 2013-2014 school year and subsequent years for any maintained school which contains an infant class. Excepted pupils are children for whom suitable education cannot be provided in an infant class at that school without relevant measures (as defined) having to be taken and who are:

  • A child with a statement admitted to the school outside a normal admission round as a result of the local authority specifying the school in the child’s statement under section 324(5)(b) of EA 1996(7);
  • A child without a statement who is looked after by a local authority (within the meaning of section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989(8)) and is admitted to the school outside a normal admission round;
  • A child without a statement who was previously looked after by a local authority but ceased to be so because they were adopted(9) or became subject to a residence order(10) or special guardianship order(11), and who is admitted to the school outside a normal admission round;
  • A child without a statement admitted to the school outside a normal admission round who was initially refused admission to the school owing to a failure properly to implement the school’s admission arrangements, but was subsequently offered a place by virtue of a determination by the admission authority that there had been such a failure in relation to the child;
  • A child without a statement admitted to the school outside a normal admission round by virtue of a determination of an appeal panel in accordance with section 94(6) of SSFA 1998(12);
  • A child without a statement admitted to the school outside a normal admission round—(a) in relation to whom the school is the only school (apart from any school to which the child has already been refused admission or from which the child has been permanently excluded) which— (i) is within a reasonable distance from the child’s home, and (ii) provides suitable education; and (b) who did not, at the relevant time (as defined), ordinarily reside at a place which was within a reasonable distance from the school. The local authority is required to confirm in writing that they are satisfied the child fulfils criterion (a);
  • A child without a statement whose parent is in the armed forces and who is admitted to the school outside a normal admission round;
  • A child without a statement whose twin or other sibling from a multiple birth is admitted in the same age group otherwise than as an excepted pupil;
  • A child (with or without a statement) who is a registered pupil at a special school(13) but, by arrangement between the school and the special school, receives part of their education at the school; or
  • A child (with or without a statement) who is normally educated in a unit which forms part of the school and is specially organised to provide education for pupils with special educational needs, but spends a minority of their time in the infant class.

All in all, there is a lot of detail to take on board before 1 February 2012…

Rachel Kamm

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