Chief schools adjudicator’s annual report: a summary
In her first annual report, Ms Shan Scott states that concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator’s (OSA) work and accounted for 200 of the total of 238 new cases of all types referred to OSA.
Covering the period 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2016, the report includes main findings and recommendations which take into account the changing school landscape, including the growth of academies and MATs.
We have collated the key findings from the report below.
- Overall 200 admissions cases were dealt with in 2015-16, down from 218 the previous year.
- 2015-16 is the first year of operation of a new timetable for the determination of arrangements by admission authorities and for making objections to those arrangements.
- Bringing forward the date for determining arrangements and deadline for objections meant that the OSA was able to complete more cases before 31 August.
- 75 local authorities report concerns about fraudulent applications.
- 81 local authorities withdrew some offers of places. The overall number of places withdrawn was very low at 267.
- Vulnerable children can struggle to find a school place if they apply mid-year.
- Some schools make background checks on would-be pupils.
- Delays to in-year admissions are a matter of ongoing concern.
- There are safeguarding concerns about children in vulnerable families who could not quickly find school places.
- Schools are sometimes unwilling to admit children part-way through examination courses.
Ms Scott has included recommendations based on the findings.
She has urged the DfE to consider providing guidance to admission authorities on how to maximise the benefits of feeder schools (including continuity of education and shared work across schools).
At the same time, the selection of feeder schools must not result in unfairness to other local children.
She also recommended considering providing guidance to MATs to ensure they make clear their admission arrangements and this is reflected in schemes of delegation to local governing bodies.
The DfE should also consider bringing forward proposals for local authorities to co-ordinate all in-year admissions.