Are Becket Keys compliant with the Schools Admissions Code?

There are two parts to the current consultation exercise that the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School is running at the moment. “Part Two – Admissions Policy Consultation for 2013 admission” is not an optional extra as you would have been forgiven for thinking. Because it differs from the admissions policy provided for 2012 entry, according to the Department for Education’s “Schools Admissions Code” it is a statutory requirement.

Only when you visit the Becket Keys page “Funding Agreement Consultation” are you appraised that the admissions policy is also part of the exercise. A link is provided to the proposed policy from here:

http://www.becketkeys.org/consultation.php

The supplementary form that parents are required to fill in when applying for a place is part of this policy and is available via the “Admissions” page. A copy can be found here:

http://www.becketkeys.org/2011_09__SUPPLEMENTARY_INFORMATION_FORM_-_BKS_v_21%20V5.pdf

The Schools Admissions Code is a 37 page document that is available on the DfE website along with information on the Schools Adjudicator, the body that ensures that all state funded school admissions policies are clear, fair and meet strict guidelines regarding selection. In short, the Schools Adjudicator must ensure that, in all cases, the Code is adhered to.

A link to the Schools Admissions Code is not currently available via the Becket Keys consultation page. It can be found here:

http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/s/school%20admissions%20code%201%20feb%202012.pdf

Certain sections of the Code indicate to me that the School’s Adjudicator will need to carefully review the Becket Keys admissions policy.

The consultation itself seems to break the code:

Introduction: 15b) “Consultation must be for a minimum of 8 weeks…consultation must be completed by 1 March 2012. This consultation period allows parents, other schools, religious authorities and the local community to raise any concerns about proposed admission arrangements.”

And:

“1.42 Consultation – When changes are proposed to admission arrangements, all admission authorities must consult by 1 March on their admission arrangements (including any supplementary information form) that will apply for admission applications the following academic year.

1.43 Consultation must last for a minimum of 8 weeks and must take place between 1 November and 1 March in the determination year.”

Criteria in the event of oversubscription also does not seem to meet the Code’s guidelines. The numbers per feeder school calculation appears complicated. The faith criteria in the policy does not seem to match the supplementary form which asks for information over and above church attendance. There is no indication how it will be demonstrated which category each student that is allocated a place fits. The amended policy on children with Special Educational Needs seems even less clear than before.

And yet the code is clear:

1.8 Oversubscription criteria must be reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and comply with all relevant legislation, including equalities legislation.”

“1.37 Admission authorities must ensure that parents can easily understand how any faith-based criteria will be reasonably satisfied.”

I believe that the current policy is overly complex and cannot be easily understood. The consultation clearly does not match the statutory criteria required by the DfE. These two areas alone demonstrate that the Becket Keys admissions policy is not compliant with the Schools Admission Code.

Stephen Mayo

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