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Admissions administration

‘(1) Chapter 1 of Part 3 of SSFA 1998 (Schools admissions) is amended as follows.

(2) After section 89 insert the following section—

“89A Admissions administration

(1) Admissions administration will receive all applications for places made on behalf of pupils seeking admission to maintained schools, academies, city technology colleges and city colleges for the technology of the arts within its area.

(2) Admissions administration will determine the awarding of places at maintained schools within its area having regard to the arrangements which are to apply for that year, established by any admissions authority within that area, including special arrangements provided for in section 91.

(3) The admissions administration shall then make the list of places awarded available to maintained schools, academies, city technology colleges and city colleges for the technology of the arts within its local area and notify parents of the results of their application.

(4) The admissions administration shall always act such that the identity of the individual applicants cannot be determined by the schools for which they have applied or expressed a preference during the admissions process, until the list of places awarded is made available to schools and parents by the admissions administration.

(5) If a school believes that the admissions administration has failed to adhere to its admissions criteria, as set by the admissions authority, it may appeal to the admissions forum, which may review, and report on their findings.

(6) The person responsible for admissions administration within a local education authority must be employed or commissioned by the local education authority.

(7) In this Chapter “admissions administration” means the person responsible for the administration of arrangements for the admission of pupils to any school within a local education authority's area.”.'.— [Sarah Teather.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.15 pm

Sarah Teather (Brent, East) (LD): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 39— Retention of selection by ability or aptitude after parent ballot—

‘(1) ‘The Secretary of State shall by regulations make such provision as he considers necessary or expedient which may include the repeal, amendment or revocation of any legislation enacted prior to the coming into effect of this Act, for the purposes of giving full effect to the principle set out in subsection (2).

(2) The principle referred to in subsection (1) is that no
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admission arrangements for any school providing secondary education may, following the commencement of a school year on or after 1st August 2010, continue to make provision for the selection of pupils by ability or aptitude other than under section 101 of SSFA 1998 (permitted selection: pupil banding) unless the continuation of such selection has been approved in a ballot of parents of pupils attending primary schools from which such pupils may by choice of their parents transfer.'.

New clause 40— Independent body to review admission arrangements for secondary education—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall, not later than six months after the passing of this Act, appoint an independent body to review the arrangements in England relating to the admission of pupils for secondary education in Part 3, Chapter 2 of SSFA 1998 and section 36 of this Act.

(2) The Secretary of State shall invite representatives of—

(a) teacher associations,

(b) local authorities,

(c) parent groups,

(d) employer bodies, and

(e) such other persons as he considers appropriate,

to make submissions to the body established under subsection (1); and the report of that body shall be laid before each House of Parliament not later than 1st April 2008.

(3) The Secretary of State, at the request of the independent body , may commision research into the admission of pupils for secondary education and related matters.'.

New clause 41— Secretary of State to implement independent review body report—

‘(1) Following the receipt by him of a report of the body established under section [Independent body to review admission arrangements for secondary education], the Secretary of State shall enter into consultations with such bodies as he considers appropriate on proposals to give effect to the recommendations of that body by a date no later than 1st September 2008.

(2) Following such consultations as are mentioned in subsection (1) the Secretary of State may by regulations make such provision as he considers necessary or expedient, which provision may include the repeal, amendment or revocation of any legislation enacted prior to the coming into effect of this Act so as to give effect to proposals whether or not recommended by the body established under section [Independent body to review admission arrangements for secondary education] for the reform of the arrangements for admission to secondary schools in England.'.

New clause 42— Definition and use of oversubscription criteria—

‘The requirements referred to in section 84(2) of SSFA 1998 shall include references to the following categories of pupils and these categories shall be taken as the criteria to be applied in the event of oversubscription in the order as set out below—

(a) children with a statement of special educational needs;

(b) children in public care;

(c) children for whom the school is most appropriate on medical or social grounds;

(d) children whose sibling or siblings will be enrolled at the school on the first day of term and who permanently reside within the area from which the school's intake is normally drawn;

(e) children for whom the school is the nearest appropriate school to their home;

(f) safe walking distance from the school;

(g) ease of access to the school by public transport;

(h) transfer from a named feeder primary school.'.


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New clause 43— Restriction on oversubscription criteria in code for school admissions—

‘The requirements referred to in section 84(2) of SSFA 1998 shall exclude the following from the criteria to be applied in the event of oversubscription—

(a) giving higher priority to children whose parents are more able or willing to support the ethos of the school or to support the school financially or in some other way;

(b) giving higher priority to children according to the occupational or financial status of their parents;

(c) giving higher priority to children according to the educational or social group or background of their parents;

(d) seeking or take account of, in giving priority to a child or in deciding whether or not to offer a place to a child, reports from his primary or nursery school about past behaviour or attitude;

(e) allocating places at a school on the basis that a sibling or other relative is a former pupil;

(f) the behaviour of other members of a child's family, whether good or bad, including a good or bad attendance record;

(g) parent's marital status;

(h) giving priority to children whose parents are staff or governors or who have another connection to the school;

(i) giving priority to children who (or whose parents) have particular interests, specialist knowledge or hobbies;

(j) giving priority to children based on the order in which applications were received;

(k) in the case of grammar schools, giving priority to siblings of pupils.'.

New clause 45— Admissions report by local education authority—

‘After section 85B of SSFA 1998 insert—

“85C Admissions report by local education authority

(1) A local education authority shall once in every school year make a report to the admission forum containing the following information—

(a) the authority's plans for acting in accordance with the code for school admissions,

(b) the proposed admission arrangements for every school, including academies and city colleges, in the local education authority area,

(c) the number of applications for each year group admitting pupils for each school,

(d) the number of pupils accepted for each year group and, if oversubscription criteria are used, the number of pupils selected using each oversubscription criterion, and

(e) the area which the school recruits pupils compared to the area in which the school is situated.

(2) The opinion of the local education authority shall be included in the report as to—

(a) whether the proposed admission arrangements for each school complies with the code for school admissions,

(b) what changes, if any, each admission authority, or as the case may be the governing body of each academy or city college, should make to their admission arrangements to comply with the code for school admissions,

(c) the accuracy and appropriateness of information given to parents seeking admission to the school, and

(d) whether

(i) the totality of the admission arrangements for the area produces fair access to schools for all pupils, and


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(ii) if not, what further action the authority intends to take to ensure fair access to maintained schools and academies and city colleges.”.'.

New clause 46— Administration of pupil admissions—

‘(1) Chapter 1 of Part 3 of SSFA (admission arrangements) is amended as follows.

(2) In section 88 (admission authorities and admission arrangements), in subsection (2) after “means the” leave out “arrangements” and insert “criteria”.

(3) In section 89B (co-ordination of admissions arrangements)—

(a) in each of subsections (1) and (2) leave out “co-ordinating” and insert “administering”,

(b) leave out subsection (5), and

(c) in subsection (6) at end insert “in particular that the local education authority admits pupils to each school in accordance with the admission criteria established by the admission authority for that school under section 89 (procedure for determining admission arrangements)”.

(4) Leave out section 89C.'.

New clause 47— Academy admission arrangements—

‘In subsection (4) of section 482 (Academies) of the Education Act 1996, insert after sub-paragraph (a)—

“(aa) conditions and requirements imposed for securing that—

(i) the proprietor of the school consults on the admission arrangements as if the school were a maintained school under section 89 of SSFA 1998 (procedure for determining admission arrangements),

(ii) pupil admissions to the school are managed by the local education authority under section 98B of SSFA 1998 (co-ordination of admission arrangements), and

(iii) objections relating to the admission arrangements are determined by the adjudicator under section 90 of SSFA 1998 (reference of objections to adjudicator or Secretary of State).”.'.

New clause 51— Parliamentary control of code for schools admissions—

‘(1) Section 85 of SSFA 1998 (making and approval of code of practice) is amended as follows.

(2) For subsections (4) and (5) substitute—

“(4) If, within the 40-day period, each House resolves to approve the draft, the Secretary of State shall issue the code (or revised code) in the form of the draft, and it shall come into force on such date as the Secretary of State may by order appoint.

(5) If no such resolution is made within the 40-day period, the Secretary of State shall take no further steps in relation to the proposed code.”.'.

New clause 70— Admission of children of staff—

‘Any child of staff currently serving at a maintained school shall be eligible for preferential admission at the discretion of the school governors.'.

New clause 75— Admission of excluded pupils—

‘(1) A local education authority may direct any school in the authority's area to admit a pupil who has been excluded from any other such school.

(2) Before making a direction under subsection (1) the local education authority must—

(a) consult the head teacher of the school to which the direction is to be issued;

(b) have regard to local policies on exclusion; and

(c) have regard to the well-being of the pupils who are likely to be affected by the direction, whether directly or indirectly.


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(3) In this section “school” means—

(a) a community, foundation or voluntary school, or

(b) an Academy, city technology college or city college for the technology of the arts.'.

Amendment No. 119, in page 26, line 8 [Clause 36], leave out from ‘ability' to end of line 11.

Amendment No. 120, in page 26 [Clause 36], leave out line 21.

Amendment No. 121, in page 26, line 25 [Clause 36], leave out from ‘omit' to end of line 28 and insert ‘subsections (1) and (2).'.

Amendment No. 112, in page 26, line 28 [Clause 36], at end insert—

‘(5) In section 100(1) of SSFA 1998—

(a) after “there is” insert—

“(a)”,

(b) for “(a)” substitute “(i)”,

(c) for “(b)” substitute “(ii)”, and

(d) at end insert “, and

(b) as compared with the arrangements in force at the beginning of that year and of each subsequent year, no increase in selection.”.'.

Amendment No. 103, in page 26, line 29, leave out clause 37.

Amendment No. 93, in page 26, line 38 [Clause 37], after ‘requirements,', insert

‘including requirements as to the criteria to be used in the event that an admissions authority receives more applications than they have places to offer (“oversubscription”),'.

Amendment No. 104, in page 26 [Clause 37], leave out line 40.

Amendment No. 94, in page 27, line 29 [Clause 38], leave out from ‘England' to end of line 31 and insert

‘shall consider the report published by the local education authority under section 85C (admissions report by local education authority) and prepare and publish its response to this report, which may include rejection, as may be prescribed.'.

Amendment No. 87, in page 27, line 43 [Clause 38], at end insert—

‘(1D) An admission forum for the area of a local education authority in England shall prepare and publish annual reports to the Schools Commissioner on such matters connected with the admission of pupils to maintained schools in that area as may be prescribed.'.

Amendment No. 95, in page 29, line 28 [Clause 41], leave out ‘89C' and insert ‘89B'.

Government amendments Nos. 48 to 55.

Amendment No. 110, in page 37, line 18, leave out clause 48.

Amendment No. 122, in page 117, line 9 [Clause 171], at end insert—

‘(2A) Section 36 comes into force on 1st September 2008.'.

Sarah Teather: The amendments relate to what is probably the most controversial aspect of our debate. What has concerned many people is the proposal in the Bill and in its forerunner, the White Paper, to give schools more freedom to control their admissions. People are worried about that because all the evidence suggests that when we give schools that freedom, over time they tend to move towards choosing the brighter children and the more middle-class children.


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I am certain that hon. Members will have constituency examples of when that is not the case, and I would not want to say that that is what happens in all schools, because clearly it does not. However, the worry is that the evidence suggests that, on the whole, schools will use that power to choose those children because of the pressure to drive up standards, particularly in the light of league tables. We have seen evidence from the Sutton Trust, Simon Burgess from the university of Bristol, and Rebecca Allen from the Institute of Education, and it all suggests the same outcome.

In response to that widespread concern, hon. Members—certainly Liberal Democrat and, in particular, Labour Members, if not Conservative Members—put pressure on the Government, who responded by changing the proposals in the White Paper so that the Bill now states that all admissions authorities should act in accordance with the code of admissions, rather than just having to have regard to that code. That was a welcome change.

The draft school legal code was published while the Bill was in Committee and was debated extensively in Committee. It touched on many things that worried me and was a welcome addition. Some things in it are very good. They include the ban on interviewing and prioritising children in care and those with a statement of special educational needs. However, I particularly welcomed the focus on the softer aspects, such as the tendency for schools to put poorer families off applying by advertising expensive trips and expensive uniforms and, specifically, for schools to use information known about a family gained through either brothers or sisters attending the same school or through parent open evenings.


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