Agenda item

Leicestershire School Admissions.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which provided an overview of the Leicestershire School Admissions responsibilities and how the department delivers these responsibilities. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes.


Arising from the discussion, the following points were made:


      i.        In response to concerns that some children had not been allocated a school place for the academic year 2022/23, the Director explained that there would usually be a number of children awaiting a school place at any given time. Members noted that some of these cases would have been where parents or carers had missed the deadline for applying, applications for a mid-term transfer, which would include those children that had moved into the area, children that had not received an offer at their preferred school after statutory transfer rounds. The Department aimed to allocate children with a school place as quickly as possible and work with parents to make the best possible choice for the child. However, where school places in preferred schools were not available, this led to appeal to the tribunal.


    ii.        In response to question regarding whether it would be possible to amend the application form to ensure that parents state three preferred schools, and that this include the catchment school, the Director explained that the School Admissions Code states that this cannot be mandated. However, the Department had improved messaging during the application process to recommend and encourage parents to state three preferences and to make them aware of the consequences where only one is stated. Despite this a number of parents had only stated one preferred school thereby limiting the chance of the child receiving a school place close to them in the event of not being successful in receiving a place at their preferred school. Members noted that the Department had communicated with schools regarding the importance of advertising catchment areas on their website and had signposted parents to check this before applying.


   iii.        Members noted that when offering places, many schools placed priority on children who are subject to an EHCP, looked after children and those known to social workers. The Director explained that sibling groups and the distance from the school would also be important to many schools when offering places, but that schools, in particular academies, could chose to operate their own admissions policies. The Department would guarantee to commit to offering a school place to asylum seeking children and the children of those in armed forces.


   iv.        In response to concerns over the number of parents who had not applied for a secondary school place for their children in the academic year 2022/23, the Director explained that the Department had experienced 200 fewer applications than expected, although some of these would be expected to make last minute applications. Some of these children would be attending independent schools and some may have been moving away from Leicestershire. Members noted that there would be no automatic entry to schools where parents had not made an application. The Department followed up with families who had not applied and would continue to issue reminders, through primary schools, for parents and carers to apply for a secondary school place.


    v.        In response to a question regarding the success rate of parents appealing an admissions decision, the Director explained that the first stage of an appeal would look at whether the Admissions Code had been correctly applied, and the second stage would consider the impact on a school if it were overfilled. Some parents had appealed an admissions decision on numerous occasions, as they were entitled to do, once every academic year. Members noted that most appeals had been unsuccessful, but that there had been some circumstances where the appeal had been successful. If the appeal had been unsuccessful, the child would have been offered a place at their nearest available school with places, and where this offer had not been taken, the child would be recorded as Missing in Education and would be referred to the inclusion service.


   vi.        Members noted that a consequence of parental choice was increased competition amongst schools with parents increasingly aware of those schools who were rated Good which were popular and mostly oversubscribed.


  vii.        In response to a question regarding the Department’s strategy for improving the admissions process, the Director explained that the Department had reflected on learning from the admissions cycle in the academic year 2022/23 and had made changes to the service ensure that children received a school place on time. A new system had been introduced to improve the admissions process and there had been an increase in the number of staff working on applications. The Director explained that children would be automatically allocated with an alternative school where they had not been offered a place at their preferred schools. Members noted that the service had made changes to the online application and had issued communications ahead of the 31 October application deadline to ensure that applications are completed correctly and on time. The Department expected to see significant improvements to the admissions process in Summer 2023.


 viii.        The Lead Member for Children and Family Services thanked officers for working incredibly hard during difficult circumstances, and for aiming to ensure that every child had a school place that themselves and their parents would be happy with.




That the overview of the Leicestershire School Admissions responsibilities and how the department delivers these responsibilities be noted.


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