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a question for prh47bridge or panelmember (or any other resident expert on admissions) please

(15 Posts)
HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 18:17:45

Hopefully this is a quick and easy question - as I understand it when a Local Authority sets its admission criteria for the schools it controls, it has a legal obligation to do so by a certain date in advance of the school year to which it relates.

However, I can't find what that date is - or if there is an actual date set by law. Do you know? Or if not, could you point me to where I might find that info please?

Thank you! smile

Panelmember Thu 13-Jan-11 19:16:15

I'm sure you're right but I can't think offhand what it is (Admission and Prh47bridge would probably know off the top of their heads).

Bear with me ....

Panelmember Thu 13-Jan-11 19:35:02

The answer seems to be by 1 January of the "relevant determination year" - the regulations are here.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jan-11 19:54:17

It's actually a little more complicated than that! That is the first of a number of dates within the process.

The "determination year" is the academic year that ends 12 months before admissions take place. So the determination year for admissions in September 2011 was 1st August 2009 to 31st July 2010.

The LA must formulate its scheme by 1st January in the determination year. There is then a consultation which must take place by 1st March in the determination year following which the LA must determine (i.e. finalise) its admission arrangements by 15th April in the determination year. Finally, the LA must publish its admission arrangements on its website by 1 May in the determination year.

We are now in the determination year for admissions in 2012, so LAs must have formulated their admission schemes for 2012 by now but they won't become final until mid-April.

Even after the admission arrangements have been finalised by the LA, there is still time to object to them. Objections should be with the Schools Adjudicator by 31st July of the determination year. The Adjudicator can consider late objections but does not have to do so.

Panelmember Thu 13-Jan-11 20:14:22

Well, quite. The answer to OP's question about when the criteria must be set is by 1 Jan of the determination (ie preceding academic) year. The regs show what the rest of the process is. There's a useful summary in the Explanatory Memorandum:

3.4 The process for determining the arrangements for admission to maintained schools is regulated by primary and secondary legislation and also by a School Admissions Code, issued under section 84 of the SSFA 1998. The process is a lengthy one. Admission authorities determine their arrangements more than 18 months before the date on which children are admitted to schools under those arrangements. There is then a process of local consultation, and a period during which parents and other interested parties can object to the determined admission arrangements. The Admission Arrangements Regulations contain new requirements about consultation, which must have taken place by 1st March 2009. The law as contained in the Admission Arrangements Regulations must be reflected in the new School Admissions Code, which will be laid before Parliament on 4th December. Any other changes to the law on school admissions which are relevant would also have to be reflected in that Code. These instruments contain provisions which must be referred to in the Code, and therefore must be made at the same
time.

OP - Why do you ask? Is this a local issue/controversy?

HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 20:14:31

prh47bridge thank you! so ...

- if the LA consulted on a new admission arrangement to begin Sept 2012,
- consultation ended 1 Dec 10, LA response 9 Jan 11 ... but
- has now been effectively thrown out by some councillors and LA told to return to the drawing board,
- are they likely to be out of time for Sept 12 and now looking at changes in time for Sept 13?

Or if they subsequently say "no, we consulted, we spoke and although we hear your objections and have looked again we're going with Plan A , or Plan A+ [or in this case about Plan D!]" would that still be possible to get in changes for Sept 2012?

Sorry, not as quick a question as I promised - I really appreciate your advice. Thank you.

HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 20:16:10

x-posted panelmember - am about to have dinner but will look at your link and read your post properly shortly.

however yes it is a local, ongoing and very contentious issue. the council is all over the shop and keeps consulting and then proposing things they didn't consult on!

Panelmember Thu 13-Jan-11 20:55:11

<<Further rummaging>>

This is the clearest statement I've found of the timetable, with all the stages.

My understanding has always been that if the LEA takes too long over any of the stages of the process (which may not be any fault of theirs) and does not abide by the timetable, then the new admissions criteria cannot be introduced. I certainly remember some very fraught consultations in our LEA when it looked as if the timetable was going to fall by the wayside. What do you think, prh47bridge?

HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 21:01:21

thanks again Panelmember. Can you tell me what the "admission forum" is please, that the LA has to refer its decision to?

admission Thu 13-Jan-11 21:04:49

This is very complicated and you are not going to win any arguement with the LA on it. The person who will potentially win the arguement for you is the School Adjudicator who has responsibility for ensuring that the admission arrangements are sound legally.

The school adjudicator can make a ruling at any time of the year, so whilst the LA is supposed to keep to the timetable if they had a good enough excuse they could ask the school adjudicator to rule. #

Maybe the answer is to get in the first blow and write to the school adjudicator asking them to intervene in the on-going saga as you have concerns over the timetable and the level of genuine consultation that has gone on. If nothing else you may get some definitive ruling on the timeline that the LA is working to.

HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 21:11:46

thanks admission. fortunately for me it won't directly affect ds as he starts (hopefully) this year - but I do want to know how things will work for future years as a decision one way or another will be liable to have an impact on the character of the school.

It is a big mess at the moment. council have set out to do one thing but are losing sight of that amidst all the claims and counter claims from different groups of residents. they can't satisfy everyone all of the time, but keep trying to it seems.

Panelmember Thu 13-Jan-11 21:12:20

Summary of the role of admissions forums here.

Admission is (as so often) right.

::waves to Admission::

This isn't the sort of area where a lone parent is likely to make much headway. If you think the LEA is making a mess of the consultation or trying to railroad it, contact the Schools Adjudicator for advice. We can try to answer all your questions about the process, but in the end what matters is whether the admissions arrangements are lawful and that we're not qualified to say.

Have you spoken to your local councillor about your concerns? That's one way of letting the LEA know that you are dissatisfied but, as I've said, it doesn't answer the question about lawfulness.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jan-11 22:05:55

Just to answer Panelmember's question, the crucial date in the timetable is 15th April. If the LA doesn't notify the Secretary of State that a scheme has been adopted by then the Secretary can impose a scheme. I suspect that in most cases if the Secretary of State intervened he would make the LA use the previous year's scheme.

On other points I agree with Panelmember and Admission.

HellinArcher Thu 13-Jan-11 22:17:18

thanks again for the answers on all this.

I was wondering about that prh47bridge - if 15 April is when the LA have to have decided, and the current consultation response has been thrown out, surely they are now running out of time to formulate a new proposal, consult on it and make a decision off the back of that consultation? Looking at about 13 weeks... I guess if they went for a 6 or 8 week consultation period they could just about manage it. But that would be the third consultation and they seem to be losing the plot with each iteration. So I was wondering if they were just going to let this slide and then say "oh sorry, out of time for another year." Because if they try to rush it through for mid-April they are undoubtedly going to get it wrong, again.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jan-11 00:58:29

If they are going back to the drawing board now they are getting a bit tight but they aren't out of time yet. They have produced proposals and consulted already. Arguably all that is now in dispute is how the proposals should be altered to take account of the consultation. They may not need to consult again on new proposals. Of course, if people aren't happy with the new proposals the LA may face appeals to the Schools Adjudicator.

The LA can't ignore the councillors - they are in charge of the LA. They can ignore the responses to consultation but that is likely to end up with appeals to the Schools Adjudicator.

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