Press release: Chief Schools Adjudicator for England: annual report

The annual report of the Chief Schools Adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, covering the period 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2015 is published today (17 December 2015).

The report records the progress made by admission authorities in England in complying fully with the ‘School admissions code‘ on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to promote fair access for all children, and notes there is still more to do.

In her report, Dr Passmore states that concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the OSA‘s work and accounted for 218 of the total of 268 new cases of all types referred to OSA.

Dr Passmore has included recommendations for the Department of Education to consider based on her main findings, these include considering whether:

  • the entire code should apply to admissions to sixth forms or there should instead be some flexibility in the processes they use
  • some sample admission arrangements should be provided to help schools avoid having unnecessarily complex admission arrangements
  • guidance might be provided that sets out what is expected of the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination of schools designated as having a religious character about the guidance they then give their schools
  • the provision concerning who can make an objection to admission arrangements should be reviewed and possibly be limited to those with proper standing for making an objection

The Chief Schools Adjudicator Dr Elizabeth Passmore said:

This is my fourth and final annual report as Chief Schools Adjudicator. It has been another busy year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator with objections about admission arrangements again accounting for the largest part of our work. The trend of cases being increasingly complex has continued for both admission and statutory proposals matters.

I am grateful for the work done by the adjudicators, administrative staff and legal advisers, and for their support. It has always been our aim to address often difficult and emotional disputes with professional and impartial application of the legislation and guidance that governs our work, and I am confident that all my colleagues have done everything possible to meet that aim.

Notes to editors

  1. Read the OSA annual report: September 2014 to August 2015.
  2. Dr Elizabeth Passmore was appointed as an adjudicator in 2004 and to the post of Chief Schools Adjudicator on 1 November 2011; she will retire on 29 February 2016.
  3. There are currently 11 adjudicators, including the Chief Adjudicator. All are part time and paid only for the work they are asked to undertake.
  4. Adjudicators resolve differences over the interpretation and application of legislation and guidance on school admissions and statutory proposals concerning school organisation.
    • In relation to all state-funded schools adjudicators:

      • rule on objections to and referrals about determined school admission arrangements (each local authority is an admission authority and during the period of this report approximately 8,818 schools are their own admission authority)
    • In relation to maintained schools adjudicators:
      • decide on requests to vary admission arrangements
      • resolve disputes relating to school organisation proposals
      • resolve disputes on the transfer and disposal of non-playing field land and assets
      • determine appeals from admission authorities against the intention of the local authority to direct the admission of a particular pupil
  5. The Chief Schools Adjudicator can also be asked by the Secretary of State to provide advice and undertake other relevant tasks.
  6. The Office of the Schools Adjudicator is a tribunal and until its abolishment in August 2013 was supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council. Once published decisions can only be challenged through the courts.
  7. Adjudicators do not deal with complaints from parents whose child has not been offered a place at a particular school.

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