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Admissions plans

(52 Posts)
gordongrumblebum Fri 27-May-11 18:49:19

What planet are they on?????
Do they not see the inevitable problems arising from unlimited admissions to a popular school? Ummmm..... buildings (haven't they stopped new building?), poorer schools getting poorer, class sizes increasing.....

Words fail me.

meditrina Fri 27-May-11 18:52:05

Can you link the actual proposals?

I can still only find comments about "ministers will announce today", rather than anything definite let alone detailed - and on this, the devil will be in the detail.


admission Fri 27-May-11 19:00:14

New admission and admission appeal consultations have come out today and are on the DfE site.
I think that the media reports are somewhat misleading in that they are not proposing massive wholescale increases but it will undoubtedly lead to some succesful schools increasing in size as it will be easier to achieve this and this will be with bigger class sizes probably.
Have they stopped new buildings? well the answer to that is that the level of funding going into LAs for capital expenditure has decreased significantly but there have just been some announcements of funding to allow academies to expand and this seems to be where the money is, which is hardly a surprise as it is Mr Gove's aim to make all schools academies. Though having said that I am not sure he realises that schools start at age 5 not 11.

gordongrumblebum Fri 27-May-11 19:01:28


That's the BBC article.

SardineQueen Fri 27-May-11 19:19:31

I've read the BBD article and am confused

I can't see how any of the proposals listed will have any impact on the scrabble for "good" schools, or improve matters in areas with oversubscription/a shortage of places.

Anyone know?

SardineQueen Fri 27-May-11 19:19:45

BBC whoops

meditrina Fri 27-May-11 19:30:18

Here are the actual consultation documents. Quite a lot to digest!

SardineQueen Fri 27-May-11 19:41:04

I think I'll wait for someone/a newpaper to precis for me grin

Thanks though!

meditrina Fri 27-May-11 19:43:34

Actually, I think we need one of the MN admissions gurus!

Pretty please!!!

admission Fri 27-May-11 21:40:41

There are some good bits, like allowing multiple births to break the infant class size regs but there are some bits that i have real concerns about, especially around increase PANs.
The relationship between the measured net capacity of the school and PAN appears to have been slackened, which would appear to suggest that successful schools can ask for and expect to get an increase in PAN as long as it is not causing a danger to pupils. That to most people will mean bigger class sizes. However the presumption that increases of PAN would be agreed is not knew it is in the current code. An awful lot of what has been said is what is currently in the code but not in as much detail, which then begs the question, do we stay with the known expectations or can we start to tweek the rules.
There has been a lot on the media today about PAN increases for Academies and this thing about giving priority to eligible free school meal pupils. That actually warrants about 3 lines as a footnote in the actual document. There is no detail but the assumption must be that an academy can alter their admission criteria such that a % of pupils will be FSM. That sounds good, but if it says 10% FSM but actually they currently admit 20% with FSM then they are actually reducing their FSM intake. Personally I think that Mr Gove is whistling in the wind if he thinks high performing outstanding schools are going to start taking swathes of FSM pupils. They will not do it because they stand a chance of not being considered high performing in the future.
The other thing that people ought to know is that this does not come into 2013 and that from a quick glance it is does not look anywhere near as radical as Mr Gove would like people to think it is.
There is also very worringly a sample admission arrangement on the last page, which has two errors on it, on things which have both been commented upon by the school adjudicator previously. Firstly it says distances measured "as the crow flies" which should be straight line distance and secondly it talks about distances being measured from the main entrance of the child's home to the main entrance of the school. That is not accurate enough, what is an entrance - the gate or the door of the school. Which kind of suggests that the new consultation was written by people who do not have a good grasp of precise english or a good grasp of the previous regs and their legal interpretation.

gordongrumblebum Fri 27-May-11 22:24:38

Admission - this is what I'd think (you're quite right).....The relationship between the measured net capacity of the school and PAN appears to have been slackened, which would appear to suggest that successful schools can ask for and expect to get an increase in PAN as long as it is not causing a danger to pupils. That to most people will mean bigger class sizes.

Can you explain again why I shouldn't be worried (working at one of the less popular schools in the area).

prh47bridge Fri 27-May-11 22:30:00

I haven't read it all as yet but the main changes are:

- If you are applying in year, e.g. because you have moved into the area, the process changes a bit. You would initially contact the LA who would tell you where you were likely to get a place but you would apply to individual schools instead of applying to the LA. Personally I think this is a good thing.

- Schools can admit beyond PAN in year without getting LA approval. My tentative view is that if the school think they can handle an additional pupil I'm not sure why they should have to get LA approval to do so, so I am marginally in favour of this at the moment but open to persuasion.

- Schools have more freedom to increase PAN but anyone can lodge an objection with the Schools Adjudicator if they feel the increase is unreasonable. However, there will be a presumption in favour of the increase unless it would make the school unsafe. Views on this clearly depend on whether you think allowing popular schools to expand is a good thing.

- Random allocation by lottery across an entire authority will be banned but it can still be used for individual schools. I wasn't aware that any authorities were still doing this but I definitely think it is a good thing they are banning it.

- Twins and service children will be added to the list of excepted children for infant class size purposes. This means that we will no longer see twins forced to go to separate schools due to infant class size regulations. It will also mean that children of service personnel will find it easier to get places when they move. Views on this depend on whether you think it is more important to keep twins together or enforce the class size limit.

- They are considering removing the requirement to take qualifying measures (i.e. employ more teachers) if an infant class is still over the size limit after one year. On the one hand this will significantly weaken infant class size rules, on the other hand it will mean schools don't have to spend a lot of money just for one or two children.

- At the moment admission authorities are required to consult on their admission arrangements every 3 years even if they aren't making any changes. The government propose to change this to 7 years if no changes are being made. Admission authorities must still consult before making any changes other than increasing PAN. Part of me wonders why they need to consult at all if they aren't changing anything.

- Academies and free schools will be allowed to give priority in their admission criteria to children receiving free school meals. The theory is that if schools do this it means that deprived children who can't move near a good school still have a chance of getting in.

- Schools will be allowed to give priority to children of staff in their admission criteria. This could include non-teaching staff. It will obviously make it less likely that staff have to deliver their children to one school then get themselves to another.

- Objections about admissions arrangements are currently supposed to be submitted to the Schools Adjudicator by 31st July, although they can take later referrals. It is proposed to move this date forward to 30th June to give admission authorities more time to respond.

- The current regulations contain a long list of people allowed to refer admission arrangements to the Schools Adjudicator. This list will be abolished allowing anyone to object to admission arrangements. Definitely a good thing in my view.

- The Schools Adjudicator will be able to look at the admission arrangements of academies instead of them being dealt with by the Secretary. Definitely a good thing.

- Currently, if the Schools Adjudicator decides that an authority's admission arrangements are non-compliant, he tells the authority what changes they must make. In future it will be up to the authority to decide what changes they must make to comply. Personally I think this is a good thing. If there are several ways an authority's arrangements can change in order to bring them into line, surely it should be up to the authority to decide which change is appropriate.

- Local authorities will no longer be required to set up Admission Forums. They aren't being prevented from doing so if they wish but they will no longer be forced to do so.

- Local authorities will no longer be required to report annually to the Schools Adjudicator on how fair access is operating in their area. Instead they will be required to publish the report locally. LAs will still have to report on other matters including how well they support SEN and looked after children.

- Contrary to at least one report I have seen, there is no proposal to abolish independent admissions appeal panels.

- Appeals should be heard a little more rapidly than now. The time from an appeal being lodged to being heard has been shortened in some cases and is expressed in working days rather than school days. That means authorities will no longer be able to refuse to hear appeals during school holidays. However, if a parent misses the authority's deadline for appeals the authority will not be required to stick to any particular timetable for the hearing.

- The draft appeal code no longer specifies the order of events in an appeal hearing. It looks like the intention is to keep the order broadly the same but the parents could be asked to present before the authority. At the moment the authority always goes first.

- The process the panel must follow in making a decision has three stages in the draft appeal code. This may draw some comment but my initial reaction is that the three stages look remarkably similar to the two stage process used currently but with the second stage split into two.

- Both the admissions code and the appeals code are much shorter than the current versions. An initial scan through suggests they are easier to follow with much unnecessary verbiage removed but I need to read them in detail to see how much has changed.

- One change I have picked up is that the proposed admissions code is clearer about when offers can be withdrawn. Offers can only be withdrawn if they were made in error, or the parent fails to respond in a reasonable period of time, or the parent lied on the application. As now, if the parent does not respond they must give them a further chance to respond before withdrawing the offer. However, whereas the current code specifies this further chance must give the parent 7 days, the new code does not say how long the parent must be allowed.

When I find time to read through the draft codes properly and compare them in detail with the current codes I'll post anything else significant I find.

meditrina Fri 27-May-11 22:34:04

Thanks prh47bridge - you're a star!

prh47bridge Fri 27-May-11 22:39:31

Admission posted while I was writing all that! I agree that the changes are not as radical as all that. The main thing they have done is make the codes substantially shorter by cutting out unnecessary repetition and avoiding using 20 words where one will do. The draft admissions code is 29 pages compared with 126 for the current code.

gordongrumblebum - As Admission says, the current code already allows schools to set a PAN higher than that indicated by their capacity and has a presumption in favour of increases in PAN by popular schools so this isn't really as big a change as it seems.

mummytime Fri 27-May-11 22:45:07

The one about staff being given priority for their own children's admission is something schools near here had, but the schools adjudicator made them remove as it discriminates against poorer families. Basically if you teach at a good school you will use this to get your children in, however you can still apply to a school local to your home if the school is not so desirable.
Also around here, secondary schools tend to start very early which causes problems for staff dropping children at primary schools.

gordongrumblebum Fri 27-May-11 23:04:50

Srry - being thick and uninformed grin
Our school PAN is 60 and we admit 60 pupils in YR.
Can the 2 form entry school down the road have a PAN of 75 and still admit 60 with 25 going to 2nd choice schools?
If that is right (tell me if I've got it wrong) then what would happen under new arrangement (assuming 30 max in YR/KS1)?

meditrina Fri 27-May-11 23:25:24

Admission - you're a star too!

prh47bridge Sat 28-May-11 00:42:03

gordongrumblebum - Under the current rules if the school down the road has a PAN of 75 and there are that many children applying it must admit 75 (and by the way it can't give priority to people who make it their first choice). They cannot stop at 60. With a PAN of 75 I would expect them to be operating 3 classes of 25 in YR and 5 mixed Y1/2 classes of 30. None of that will change under the new code.

prh47bridge Sat 28-May-11 12:15:19

gordongrumblebum - Looking at your question again, if the school down the road is 2 form entry it cannot have a PAN higher than 60. That would be a breach of infant class size regulations. If they want to have a PAN of 75 they will have to add another reception class and another Y1/2 class - with a PAN of 75 they would need 8 classes across infants to avoid breaching infant class size rules. None of that changes under the new code.

The school down the road may find it slightly easier to raise its PAN if the changes are introduced but unless they have the space for additional classes they are stuck with a PAN of 60.

dreamingofsun Sat 28-May-11 14:39:50

surely they should encourage good teachers to work in bad schools to improve them? giving their children priority will encourage teachers to move to the best schools in the area and make the teaching at the worse ones even poorer.

i'm fed up with my children being descriminated against because my husband and i work hard and pay lots of taxes. once they go to uni they will have to pay part of their tuition fees to poorer students - now they will also be descrimiated against for school places.

i agree with the forces getting priority - they are potentially dying for their country so educating their children properly seems the least we can do.

increasing the size of grammar schools would on initial thought appear a good idea - mainly as my children would have got in.

overall i would like more focus on improving the quality of all the schools, rather than devising ways of allocating places at good ones.

dreamingofsun Sat 28-May-11 15:52:12

my soon to be ex SIL is a lazy cow who's made very little contribution towards society or her family. she grudgingly works 4 hours a week as a dinner lady - why should her children get priority over mine if there's a shortage in places?

gingeroots Sat 28-May-11 17:06:14

- Random allocation by lottery across an entire authority will be banned but it can still be used for individual schools

Lovely experts - can you help me understand
a) why lotteries are deemed ok for individual schools ?
If not ok for whole LA ,why ok for some ?
Who decides which schools it's ok for ?
b) does this apply to Academies ?

Sorry if being dense !

prh47bridge Sat 28-May-11 17:46:57

gingeroots - The change is that the LA must not use random allocation as the main oversubscription criterion for all their schools, on the basis that it reduces the admissions process to a lottery. The wording in the draft code isn't very clear but I think the intention is that any school which is its own admission authority can use random allocation. Personally I would like to see random allocation banned completely but others may disagree.

The new codes will apply to all state schools including faith schools, free schools and academies.

dreamingofsun - Encouraging good teachers to work in bad schools isn't really a matter for the Admissions Code. The government's view is that some schools lose out on potentially valuable members of staff under current arrangements. I don't have any view on this one at the moment. I am definitely not going to comment on your SIL. But saying your children will have to pay part of their tuition fees to poorer students is a very odd way of looking at it.

gingeroots Sat 28-May-11 19:14:13

Thanks prh47bridge , but aren't academies their own admission authorities ?

erebus Sat 28-May-11 20:24:39

Increased PAN can be a double edged sword, too, can't it?

Apart from the issue of unwieldy class sizes, has it not be shown that class size is an issue in academically varied classes (like yer average comprehensive), i.e. academic DCs learn just as well in a class of 30 as they do 20, but the big difference happens with far less academically able DCs who hugely benefit from small class sizes (our most academic Public Schools have quite large class sizes because all the DCs have been selected on their ability to 'keep up', and do).

Another consideration:
At what point will a 'good' school cease to be if it widens its net? In the selective sector, it stands to reason that a school that admits the top 10% of DCs by examination is unlikely to turn out such high results if suddenly it admits the top 15%. Not dissimilarly, in the case of a 'good' comprehensive: in the absence of lotteries, the school 'selects by house price'. Its intake will be the DCs of parents committed enough or wealthy enough to buy in catchment. Though the effect may not be as strong as in a grammar area, there may be knock-on effects of bringing in DCs from a wider area if the wider area -let's say- includes an area of huge economic and social deprivation.

And I'd also agree that few high performing comps are going to leap at the FSM carrot as their 'fear' will be that, in the absence of interview, that could saddle them with the one or 2 pupils necessary to make learning impossible for the rest of the class.

SO not as radical at it seems, perhaps!

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