White paper sparks fears on admissions

Government plans to give schools freedom to decide their own policies on admissions will not benefit disadvantaged children, campaigners have said.

The Higher Standards, Better Schools for All white paper proposes that schools would only have to take account of guidance and not adhere to a statutory code on admissions.

James Kempton, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board, said it wanted to see a statutory code on admissions policies. “If every child matters we must have a commitment to those who are not as articulate as those parents who know how to play the system,” he added.

Caroline Abrahams, head of policy at charity NCH, said: “Unless there are binding arrangements in terms of admissions it is hard to see how this will improve things for the most vulnerable children.”

But the white paper does outline plans to extend the right to free transport to and from school for disadvantaged families.

Local authorities will no longer be providers of education, and from next year schools will be given a dedicated budget separate from local authority funding.

The document sets out plans to give secondary schools greater freedoms. Parents will also be given more influence over the running of their children’s schools, and will be given the power to replace their leaders or set up a new school.

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