Watchdog calls for drastic limits on who can officially object to school admissions policies

Chief adjudicator’s proposed restriction condemned by anxious parents and campaign groups

The government’s chief adjudicator for schools has called for drastic new limits on who can object to admissions arrangements.

Elizabeth Passmore has recommended to ministers that only “those with proper standing” should have their concerns about school admission policies considered by her office.

The chief adjudicator’s call, in her latest annual report, comes despite a warning in the same document that “too many” schools are failing to comply with the “relatively modest requirements” of the school admissions code.

But Dr Passmore is concerned that multiple objections from pressure groups have contributed to a surge in her office’s costs last year from £815,000 to £1,113,000 and a significant increase in caseload.

She states that dealing with objections over school admissions from those with “no connection in terms of seeking a place for their child” is “not good use of an adjudicator’s time and public money”.

But parents’ groups have told TES that any restrictions would only add to parents’ anxiety. And other campaigners said that an increasingly fragmented system – where too many schools flouted the rules over admission arrangements – needed to be “rigorously challenged”.

The Comprehensive Future admissions pressure group argued that parents often only came across “unfairness” in school admissions when it was “too late to object”.

The news comes as hundreds of thousands parents wait to hear whether their child will get into their preferred primary after submitting applications last week. It emerged that places have been become so scarce that 90 primaries in England have reduced their catchment areas to less than 300 metres.

This is an edited version of an article in the 22 January edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full story here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. You can also download the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. TES magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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