Looked-after children must be given the highest priority in school admissions from February 2007, under a government code issued for consultation today.
Schools will have to act in accordance with the code, which will be introduced through the Education and Inspections Bill, currently in parliament, rather than just have regard to it, as is the case with the current admissions code.
Education secretary Alan Johnson said he was determined to end the “unfairness” of the current situation where a “minority of schools have used unfair criteria to influence their intake”.
“The new code will ensure that every child, regardless of background, has a fair chance of securing a place at the school they want to attend,” he said.
The code says that schools must not refuse admission to children with a history of serious misbehaviour unless they have been permanently excluded from a maintained school two or more times.
The code also prohibits schools from raising funds by selling school uniforms or by setting charges for school trips above their actual cost.
The Department for Education and Skills also launched a consultation today on guidance for local authorities on identifying children missing from education.
For more details on Bills in parliament related to social care