Local authorities will be given greater powers to oversee schools’ admission policies after it was revealed that a significant number were found to be breaching rules to prioritise looked-after children.
A government analysis of admissions procedure in three local authority areas – Northamptonshire, Manchester and Barnet – found that a sizeable minority of schools were not following the school admissions code introduced last year. Besides not giving priority to children in care when oversubscribed, as required by law, common misdemeanours included asking parents to pay for admissions and interviewing children.
Own admission schools
A disproportionate number of the schools concerned handled their own admissions, rather than left this to councils.
Children and schools secretary Ed Balls announced yesterday that councils will now report each year on the legality, fairness and effectiveness of all school admission arrangements in their area.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said that the measures were long overdue. He added: “Strengthening the role of local authorities will help ensure that every child has a fair chance of getting into their parents’ preferred school, and that no child will be disadvantaged by unfair admission arrangements.”
Chief executive of The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) Kevin Williams welcomed the move. He said: “Giving children in care priority in their secondary school choice is a small, but important, step towards giving Britain’s most vulnerable children a fairer start in life.”