Annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England published

 Annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England published

The annual report of the Chief Adjudicator Ms Shan Scott, has been published.

The report records the progress made by admission authorities in England in complying fully with the School Admissions Code and achieving fair access to schools for all children.

In her report, Ms Scott states that the main admissions rounds for entry to schools works well and serves well the interests of looked-after and previously looked-after children, those with disabilities and special needs or who are vulnerable for other reasons.

She is less confident that the needs of children who need a place outside the normal admissions round are so well met and is concerned that some children, particularly the more vulnerable, spend more time out of school than they should.

Concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the work of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) and accounted for 100 of the total of 163 new cases of all types referred to OSA.

The Chief Adjudicator reports many positives in achieving fair access to schools for all children while highlighting areas in which admissions procedures can be strengthened.

She notes that local authorities report that fair access protocols typically work well and do much to support timely admission to school.

She also states that more schools are giving priority in their oversubscription criteria to children eligible for the pupil premium and service premium and these cover all age ranges, rural and urban schools, large and small schools and different categories of schools.

The Chief Adjudicator said: “In my second annual report as Chief Adjudicator, I have been particularly pleased to report that the main admissions round is working effectively and to recognise some good practice seen by adjudicators in the course of our work. It remains the case though that some school admission arrangements fail to comply with what the law requires.

“The total number of cases referred to the OSA was lower than in recent years and objections to admission arrangements continue to form the largest part of our work. As in previous years, parents were the single largest group of objectors, accounting for about half of all objections.

“I am grateful for the work done by adjudicators, our administrative staff and legal advisers, and for their support. The OSA aims to consider each case referred to us impartially, honestly and objectively and in full accordance with the legislation that governs our powers and duties and I am confident that all my colleagues have done everything possible to meet that aim.

“I am confident too that in their dealings with parents, schools, academy trusts, religious bodies, local authorities and others, adjudicators and OSA staff appreciate how important the matters raised are to those concerned and that they deal sensitively and fairly with all.”

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