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The process for primary and secondary school admissions are largely the same. Typically, parents select their preference(s) for which school(s) they’d like their children to attend. While every child has the right to an education and, at least, a place in a state school. However, there will always be a limited number of places available. Schools typically receive applications from more students than they can feasible accommodate. School admissions can, therefore, be deemed as a highly competitive process and challenges against admission policies and authority decisions are occurring more frequently.  

Do Schools Have A Duty To Comply With Parental Preferences?

For primary and secondary school admissions the local authority co-ordinates all admissions. This is irrespective no matter who the admissions authority of the school is.

Under section 86 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, local authorities are under an obligation to comply with parental preferences unless it would prejudice the provision of education or the efficient use of a school’s resources. In other words, parents have a right to express a preference for a particular school but they do not have a right for their child to attend that particular school.

The enforcement of the law stamps out biased, prejudiced and covert admission practices. Local authorities and its schools must be able to set its admission policies they consider to be the fairest, adjusting to local conditions which do not penalise against low income families, vulnerable or special needs children or incite social segregation.

To meet this obligation we are able to advise schools on:

Admissions Policies and Procedures

  • The admissions policy and criteria to ensure that your school is compliant with the Admissions Code of Practice
  • Dealing with complaints to the Schools Adjudicator or the Young People's Learning Agency
  • Advising on changes to admissions policies

Admission Appeals

  • We are able to provide clerking support for admission appeal panels
  • Dealing with Ombudsman complaints
  • Providing advice and support on the conduct of admission appeals 
  • Provide representation before Independent Admissions Appeals Panels

Complaints and Admissions Challenges

  • Challenging the decisions of Independent Admissions Appeal Panels
  • Responding to complaints against admissions policies which have been made by parents to the Local Government Ombudsman
  • Referrals to the Schools Adjudicator in respect of admissions policies and disputes concerning the placement of children under the In Year Fair Access Protocol

Our team of lawyers are highly experienced in providing legal advice on:

  • State primary admissions
  • State secondary admissions
  • SEN school / department admissions
  • Faith school admissions
  • Selective (i.e. independent, grammar and boarding) school admissions