End to admissions 'free-for-all'

14th September 2001 at 01:00
AdmissionS arrangements in foundation and church schools could be challenged by any school in their area under proposed new powers outlined by Education Secretary Estelle Morris.

The move is intended to end the admissions free-for-all which enables determined middle-class parents to make multiple applications and hold on to offers of places at community schools while waiting to see if they have a place at a selective or church school. Foundation and church schools control their own admissions arrangements. If they believe these are unfair, community schools will be able to object to the schools adjudicator.

The plan is one of a series of proposals designed to make choosing primaries and secondaries easier. Other changes include requiring schools and local authorities to have a co-ordinated system so that parents in any area are all offered a school place on the same day.

Admission forums - introduced last year to co-ordinate admissions on a voluntary basis - will become mandatory. Controversially, the forums will advise on sharing difficult pupils. Oversubscribed schools are likely to resist admitting such pupils but struggling comprehensives, which currently shoulder most of the burden, will welcome the change.

The new arrangements have been welcomed by heads and local education authority leaders, who say they will help level the playing field between former grant-maintained (now foundation) schools and those which come under the LEA.

Analysis, 28-29

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