The education authority is directing our school to accept more pupils than we can, in our view, accommodate and more than our standard number as originally agreed. Can the governors refuse to accept them?
Responsibility for admissions to all LEA-maintained schools is vested in the local authorities; the concept of the standard number was written into the Education Reform Act 1988 to prevent them rationing admissions to popular schools to sustain numbers in others. It would appear, in your case, that the policy has been too successful.
Section 26(4) of the Act does allow the local authority to fix the number of admissions for any age group at a higher level than the standard number, but section 33 requires the local authority to consult the governing body at least once every school year as to whether the arrangements are satisfactory, and to consult the governing body before varying those arrangements.
If there has been no consultation, the governors have good cause for complaint, although I doubt whether they will ultimately succeed in preventing the extra admissions. An application to the Secretary of State, on the grounds that the local authority is acting unreasonably in the exercise of its powers, might at least have a nuisance value in obliging the authority to justify its actions.
Q A parent has informed this school that she will seek an injunction if we publish her child's GCSE results in the local paper. Could she succeed?
A An important distinction must be made between the school's duty to publish its overall exam results and its desire to publish the results of individual pupils.
Local newspapers are keen to produce both, but the latter is particularly interesting for them because it guarantees the sale of papers to those who want to see their offsprings' names in print.
The results of individual pupils are confidential to them and, when they are minors, their parents have the right to decide whether they should be published. No school should publish results in this way without giving parents the opportunity to opt out, and their wishes should be respected.
Q In a recent answer about pensions, you said that one way of gaining access to a pension was by way of compulsory redundancy. I suffered this fate at 46 and cannot gain access to my pension until I am 60. Should you not have made this clear?
A You are quite right and I am happy to make it clear that you cannot gain access to your pension before your 50th birthday, except by early retirement on health grounds. After 5O, it may be possible if one's departure is agreed by one's employers to be in the interests of the efficient discharge of their function.
Q Can a school sell items of school uniform exclusively through its own shop and make a profit for the school?
A There is nothing to prevent a school operating a shop. What is sold there is subject to the normal laws governing the sale of goods, but there is nothing to prevent the sale of uniforms and other equipment.
A school might run into difficulties in seeking to establish a monopoly for any item. Parents might well object if they felt that the school was trying to exploit its position by charging excessively for items which could not be bought elsewhere.
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