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Last updated on 13 February 2019
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Find out how to set your admissions arrangements, who you must notify and what the deadlines are.

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Guidance in this article is taken from the school admissions code

Setting the arrangements

If one of your schools is undersubscribed, every child that requests a place will get one. If one of your schools is oversubscribed, admissions criteria are used to help allocate places. 

You can set the oversubscription criteria as you see fit, but there are certain requirements you must follow. 

For example:

  • Any child with special educational needs (SEN) whose education, health and care (EHC) plan names the school must be admitted before any oversubscription criteria are applied
  • Looked after children, and post-looked after children, are usually given highest priority

The rules for setting oversubscription criteria are on pages 9 to 17 of the admissions code, linked to above. Make sure you're clear on these.

Using 'feeder schools' in your MAT as oversubscription criteria

The admissions code allows you to name children coming from a feeder school as part of your oversubscription criteria, as long as this is on "reasonable grounds".

However, being part of the same MAT isn't necessarily enough of a reason to name a school as a feeder school. Law firm Stone King looks at examples of cases that the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has judged, including the kinds of links between the schools that the OSA would expect to see.

Deadlines and who to notify

For entries in September 2021, admission arrangements need to be determined by 28 February 2020

You must notify the 'appropriate bodies' once arrangements have been determined. These are:

  • All other admission authorities within your 'relevant area' (your local authority determines this area)
  • Your local authority (LA)
  • In the case of faith schools, the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination
  • All governing boards for community and voluntary controlled schools in your relevant area

You must send copies of your admission arrangements to your LA by 15 March 2020. Faith schools must also send a copy to the body or person representing their religion or religious denomination.

You must also display a copy of the determined arrangements on your websites for the duration of the offer year (i.e. the school year in which offers of places are made).

What if there are objections?

Any objections to determined admission arrangements must be referred to the OSA by 15 May 2020 (paragraph 1.50).

The OSA will determine whether the admissions arrangements are unlawful, or if they don't comply with the admissions code. 

Consulting on the changes

You must consult on your admission arrangements:

  • If you want to change them
  • At least once every 7 years, even if you haven't changed them 

The Department for Education (DfE) says schools can't make changes to their admissions criteria once they've been set following consultation. You need to wait until the next consultation before making any changes. See the section below for more detail on the consultation process. 

Information about consultation is on page 18 of the admissions code. 

There's an exception to the requirement to consult

If you're proposing to increase the published admissions number (PAN), or keep it the same, you don't have to consult (see paragraph 1.3 of the code). However, if you have a higher PAN than in previous years, you do have to notify the LA and make specific reference to the change on your website.

However, this exception doesn't apply to special academies. If there are special academies in your MAT and you propose to increase their PAN by 10% or more, or 20 or more pupils - whichever is the smaller number - you'll have to follow the process for making significant changes to an academy (see page 14).

How to consult on admissions arrangements

The rules on consultation are set out in paragraph 1.44-1.45 of the admissions code.

Who to consult

Where consultation is required, you must consult:

  • Parents of children between the ages of 2 and 18
  • Other people in your relevant area who you think will have an interest in the proposed admissions
  • All other admission authorities within your relevant area (except that primary schools need not consult secondary schools)
  • Your LA
  • In the case of faith schools, the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination

When to consult

For admission arrangements in September, consultation must:

  • Take place between 1 October and 31 January of the 'determination' year (so, for admissions in September 2020, by 31 January 2019)
  • Last at least 6 weeks

The consultation period can overlap with school holidays.

Publish the consultation online

You must publish a copy of your full proposed admissions arrangements on your website for the duration of the consultation period. You must also publish:

  • Details of the person to whom responses should be sent
  • Areas of the proposal about which comments are not sought

You must send, upon request, a copy of the proposed admission arrangements to any of the parties who must be consulted.

As part of publishing the consultation

Include:

  • A covering note to explain why the school is consulting
  • An explanation of any proposed changes to the arrangements, and where in the arrangements these are
  • Clear instructions on how people can send their responses

This was explained to us by 2 of our associate education experts, Maggie Waller and Mark Trusson. However, there's no set format for how consultations should be published.

Sixth form admission arrangements

You can set academic entry requirements for your sixth forms. However, these must be the same for both external and internal applicants.

In addition, you must give highest priority in the oversubscription criteria to looked after and post-looked after children who meet any stated academic entry criteria.

Requirement to consult

School sixth form admissions arrangements for external applicants must be consulted upon, determined and published in accordance with the same timetable as for admission arrangements for other entry points.

This is set out in paragraph 2.6 of the admissions code.

Sources

Maggie Waller has worked with schools and local authorities on a range of educational initiatives. She has more than 25 years’ experience in school funding and 10 years’ experience of schools forums, many of these as chair.

Mark Trusson is the director and chief executive of an academy trust. He has expertise in the innovative use of ICT with pupils and leading church schools.

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides.