Education secretary Nicky Morgan has moved to “unclog” the school admissions system by limiting official objections to a school’s arrangements to only those that come from the local area.
The change follows the chief schools adjudicator’s recommendation to ministers, revealed by TES on Friday, that only “those with proper standing” should have their concerns considered by her office.
Now Ms Morgan has taken heed and decided that “only local parents will have a say on admissions”. She intends to stop “vexatious complaints” from secularist campaigners.
The minister has also pledged to increase the say of parents and communities in local admissions by requiring schools to consult on their admission arrangements every four years, instead of the current seven.
Ms Morgan said: “We want every child to have the opportunity to go to a good local school by making it easier for parents to have a say in their local school’s admission process.
“So that parents can be confident that the school admission process is working for them – we are ensuring only local parents and councils can object to admission arrangements, which will also put a stop to vexatious complaints against faith schools by secularist campaign groups.”
In her latest annual report, chief schools adjudicator Elizabeth Passmore said multiple objections from pressure groups had led to a significant increase in caseload and a surge in her office’s costs last year from £815,00 to £1,113,000.
But responding to Dr Passmore’s recommendations, Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts told TES last week that she doubted the changes would help.
“Preventing interested groups from making representations about perceived imperfections of the system doesn’t feel like a particularly constructive way forwards,” she said. “If anything, it’s likely to add to parental dissatisfaction.”
The Comprehensive Future school admissions pressure group has argued that local parents often only come across “unfairness” in school admissions when it is “too late to object”.
The Department for Education said a full public consultation would be conducted on the proposed changes “in due course”.