New DfE School Admissions Code
A new DfE School Admissions Code came into force on 19 December 2014. It can be found in the Resources section of the Education Service website or through the following link:
The main changes in the Code are as follows:
Those which take effect immediately:
- requirement for all children adopted from local authority care to be given top priority for a school place and not just those adopted under the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
Action required - own admission authority schools must make sure they now vary their admission arrangements for 2015 to give effect to this mandatory requirement of the Code and to ensure this change is also reflected in the arrangements they determine for 2016 entry. NOTE: This advice has been given to schools in previous communications and most have amended admission arrangements where necessary. However, schools should double-check their policies or seek advice from the Education Service, if unsure.
- provision for admission authorities of primary schools to give priority to children who are eligible for the early years pupil premium, the pupil premium or service premium and who have attended a nursery which is part of the school, subject to statutory consultation (see also advice issued by the DfE in December 2014 on using the pupil premium, service premium or early years premium in admission arrangements - www.gov.uk/government/publications/using-the-pupil-premium-or-service-premium-in-admissions)
- provision to give priority to children who attract the pupil and service premium, subject to statutory consultation (see also advice issued by the DfE in December 2014 on using the pupil premium, service premium or early years premium in admission arrangements - www.gov.uk/government/publications/using-the-pupil-premium-or-service-premium-in-admissions)
- requirement for admission authorities to comply with a decision of the School's Adjudicator within two months of the determination or the deadline for determination, whichever is the lesser
- confirmation that admission authorities must make clear in their admission arrangements the process for requesting admission out of the normal age group, that they must make decisions in the best interests of the child concerned and that when informing parents of their decision, they must set out clearly the reasons for their decision (see also updated advice issued by the DfE in December 2014 on the admission of summer born children - www.gov.uk/government/publications/summer-born-children-school-admission)
Action required - own admission authority schools must make sure they now include the process for requesting admission out of the normal age group in the arrangements they determine for 2016 entry. NOTE: This is a new element in the Code published on 19 December 2014.
Those which take effect for entry in 2017/18:
- change to the length of time that admission authorities need to consult on admission arrangements from eight to six weeks
- change to the dates between which admission authorities must consult from '1 November to 1 March' to '1 October to 31 January'
- change to the deadline for admission authorities to determine their admission arrangements from 15 April to 28 February
- change to the deadline for admission authorities to send a copy of their determined admission arrangements to the local authority from 1 May to 15 March
- change to the date by which objections should be made to the Schools Adjudicator from 30 June to 15 May
Action required - Own admission authority schools are advised to take note of the amended dates that will apply to consultation and determination of admission arrangements for 2017 and to ensure that policy review dates and schedules for governing body agendas are updated as appropriate for Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016.
Paragraph 2.16 of the new School Admissions Code provides the following clarifications:
- that a child is entitled to a full time place in the September following their fourth birthday
- that a parent can defer their child’s entry to school until later in the school year but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age and not beyond the beginning of the final term of the school year for which the offer was made
- that if a parent wishes it, children may attend part time until later in the school year but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age
Action required - schools should ensure that their admission arrangements comply with the Code in this respect. Schools should respond to parental requests for full time/part time attendance or deferred entry, as permitted by the Code.