Recent DfE announcements

November 7th, 2011

There was another flurry of activity from the Department for Education last week.

Admissions

On 2 November, the Department published the new admissions code and admissions appeals code in draft. It is intended that these will come into force in February 2012 and apply to the allocation of places for children starting school in September 2013. The key change is a new national offer day for primary school places, which will be on or around 16 April. The new code will also give adopted children who were previously looked after (and children who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order) the same, highest priority for places as they had as looked-after children. Note that some of the proposed changes to the code are subject to the Education Bill (see Tim Kerr QC’s recent post) receiving Royal Assent.

Funding for school places and new schools

In a separate announcement on 3 November, the Secretary of State made a written statement to the House of Commons on the shortage of pupil places and on the development of new schools.

Mr Gove announced in July  that  an additional £500 million would be made available this year to local authorities experiencing the greatest need in managing shortfalls in providing pupil places. This money has now been allocated to over one hundred local authorities, with allocations calculated using figures in the 2011 School Capacity and Forecast Information returns. Future capital allocations for basic need and maintenance pressures will be announced later in the year.

Mr Gove also announced that he had launched a 12 week consultation on the revision of school premises regulations, which proposes making the requirements for independent and maintained schools identical and reducing the overall number of regulations.

Finally, Mr Gove announced his final decision on funding for the six claimant local authorities in the Building Schools for the Future Litigation (see posts here and here). He said:

I announced what I was minded to do in July and have received further representations from each of the claimant authorities. I considered these carefully but I am not persuaded that I should depart from the decision which I announced I was minded to take. My final decision is, therefore, not to fund the schools in the claim but, instead, to fund, in capital grant, the value of the claimant authorities proven contractual liabilities.

SEN Green Paper pathfinders

Further to my post back in March on the Support and Aspiration Green Paper, the Government is now funding programmes which are intended to help the 20 SEN Green Paper pathfinder areas to test some of the Government’s key reforms. The Department is funding around £6 million a year for two years to voluntary and community organisations to support the delivery of short breaks, provide greater information and help to parents, and help disabled young people and those with SEN prepare for employment, training and independent living after they leave school.

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