Campaigners have today called for an urgent inquiry into the schools admission system that they say is “long overdue.”
The Comprehensive Future campaign group says that local authorities now have little say on how pupils are admitted to schools in their area because more than 70 per cent of schools, including academies and faith schools, now act as their own admission authorities.
The group today called on the Commons Education Select Committee to stage the inquiry, stating: “When Theresa May came to power in 2017, she promised to review our increasingly complex and fragmented schools admission system. Such an inquiry is long overdue following significant changes to our school landscape over the last decade.”
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In the latest annual report of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, published in January, chief adjudicator Shan Scott repeated concerns that admissions are becoming harder to police and said there were "less and less justifiable reasons" from schools turning away pupils with special needs.
She also said she was “very concerned” that some local authorities reported difficulty in establishing whether a child had or had not been previously looked after (which should give them priority admissions) and said the proportion of children eligible for the pupil premium securing places at grammar schools had “not increased in the ways hoped for”.
We're very grateful for the support of so many influential people in our call for a @CommonsEd inquiry into school admissions. Thanks to @cyclingkev @MaryBoustedNEU @BeckyFrancis7 @LaylaMoran @CarolineLucas @dannydorling @profsimonb @SGorard @profbeckyallen @AnnaVignoles & more. pic.twitter.com/efoZRKqint— Comprehensive Future (@comp_future) March 18, 2019
In a tweet today, Comprehensive Future tweeted: “Schools admissions lie at the very heart of our schools and how fair such a system is perceived to be.
“Arrangements should be transparent, just and easily understandable to all families. We therefore call upon the education select committee, as a matter of urgency, to set up an enquiry into school admissions.”
Dr Nuala Burgess, chair of Comprehensive Future, told Tes that the call followed an approach made by the National Secular Society.
She said: “They saw the opportunity to join with us in asking for a long-overdue review of school admissions.
She added: “A couple of years ago, a teacher told me her children had failed to get into to the CofE academy where she taught because she and her kids attended a Pentecostal church with her mum and were deemed the 'wrong kind of Christian'. You couldn't make it up."
A DfE spokesperson said : “We want to ensure the admissions system continues to work effectively for parents, pupils and schools. That is why we keep the system under regular review.
“The vast majority of parents will be offered a place at one of their preferred schools [this year] and most will be offered their top preference.”