More than 50 schools in Hertfordshire have had their admissions arrangements changed to ensure they meet requirements to
prioritise looked-after children, following action by the council.
The authority referred 59 schools to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which arbitrates on admissions, because their admissions policies for 2007-8 did not comply with regulations published in February to give priority to children in care.
Since July, the adjudicator has upheld 52 of the referrals, including 13 last week. The council’s director of children, schools and families, John Harris, said the local authority and the county’s admissions forum had made a concerted effort to ensure all admissions authorities complied with the regulations.
Some non-compliant schools had changed their arrangements as a result, but others did not, forcing the council to refer them to the adjudicator.
Harris stressed it was more a case of schools misinterpreting the regulations than deliberately not prioritising looked-after children.
From next year, councils will gain the authority to direct schools – except academies – to admit looked-after children, under changes to the admissions code of practice, but Harris said he hoped this would be a last resort.