Schools Admissions and Schools Admissions Appeals Codes have been revised and reissued. They contain guidance, much of which is now mandatory, to all public bodies with responsibilities for admissions to schools in England.
Jeremy Watt, Deputy Head of the Children’s Education Advisory Service talks through the changes made in February 09 likely to be of interest to Service families.
In February 09 revised versions of the Schools Admissions and Schools Admissions Appeals Codes were published and contain guidance, much of which is now mandatory, to all public bodies with responsibilities for admissions to schools in England.
Some media coverage suggested that Service children would now be given preferential treatment in the allocation of school places. Whilst you might think that this should be the case, it is important for you to know that, for the majority, it is not. None-the-less the changes are likely to be of welcome interest to Service families.
The background to these changes was that in Autumn 08, the Government asked the Service community for their views on admissions to schools in England. Three questions were aimed specifically at Service parents and we hope you got the message were able participate in this discussion and did so.
The Service Personnel Command Paper, published in July 08, flagged up the Government’s further review of admissions to schools in England which would encompass the needs of Service families and the education of their children and as a result things have changed.
As a summary, the changes to the School Admissions Code relevant to Service families are:
After ‘Looked After Children’ (those in public care), the next two highest categories of children for admissions to State boarding schools are:
- Children of members of the UK Armed Forces;
- Children of Service personnel who have died while serving or who have been discharged as a result of attributable injury.
Local authorities and admissions authorities for all State Maintained Schools, day and boarding, must:
- Allocate a school place in advance, if accompanied by an official government letter (eg. MOD, FCO or GCHQ) declaring a relocation date and intended address, if the applicant would meet the criteria on relocation;
- Accept a Unit postal address, or if appropriate, a quartering area address in the absence of a new home postal address.
Fair Access ProtocolsThese are agreements between local authorities and all admissions authorities which ensure that a range of vulnerable children gain access to school places if they have difficulty in securing them. Regulations published with the Code now require Service children to be included in such Protocols.
NB. A school place offered through a Fair Access Protocol (ie. when no school place is available to a child requiring one) will not necessarily be in a school preferred by parents. Protocols do not replace the admissions appeals process.
It is only the changes relevant specifically to Service families which are listed here. There are other parts of the School Admissions Code which are specifically relevant to Service families and communities in England as well as parts which are generally relevant.