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Admissions criteria must be:

* objective, clear, fair, and compatible with equal opportunities legislation;

* where church schools give preference to particular faiths, they must make clear exactly how a family's commitment to a particular religion is verified: for example, whether a letter from a priest is necessary;

* only church schools may interview parents - and only to assess their religious commitment.

Local forums can be set up to co-ordinate admissions.

Independent adjudicators rule on objections, but the adjudicator will pass on objections based on religious criteria to the Secretary of State.

Admission authorities, councils and church and ex-GM school governors can object to another's criteria on any number of grounds, for example an increase in pupil numbers or timing of the 11-plus.

Parents may object on grounds of partial selection according to ability:

* at least 10 parents need to object about the same

element of the arrangements;

* all must have children of

primary age and live within three miles of the school;

* parents do not have the right to object to the principle of selection in grammar schools or for post-16 education, about banding systems, or where specialist schools select on the basis of aptitude.

Warwick Mansell

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