The Chief Schools Adjudicator, Dr Elizabeth Passmore, has today called again for all admission authorities in England to comply fully with the Admissions Code on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to ensure fair access for all children.

In her annual report for 1 September 2012 to 31 August 2013, Dr Passmore states that overall admission authorities have responded promptly to changes in the 2012 Admissions Code by amending their arrangements to give the highest priority as the first oversubscription criterion to both looked-after children and previously looked-after children.  

Concerns about admission arrangements continue to make up the largest part of the OSA’s work and accounted for 162 of the total of 212 cases of all types referred to the OSA. Objections to admission arrangements increased a little this year but the figure of 162 cases represents less than 2% of admission authorities.

Dr Passmore concludes that the application of fair access protocol procedures is again mostly working effectively in placing children who do not have a school place in a school that best meets their needs. However, to improve further fair access for all children to state-funded schools in England, Dr Passmore calls for:

  • all admission authorities must comply with the requirements of the Code in respect of consultation about; determination of; and publication of their full admission arrangements
  • all schools that admit students new to the school to the sixth form should ensure they comply with the general requirements of the Code, including those for consultation, determination, having a published admission number for new students and publishing the arrangements as well as those that apply specifically to the sixth form
  • the Department for Education should ensure that there is clear guidance for new schools and those that change their status to become their own admission authority about the requirements and timetable to be followed concerning admission matters
  • the Department for Education should consider issuing guidance for schools and local authorities so that there is fair access to schools for all children on reaching compulsory school age so that children are not disadvantaged by any decision their parents make about the care of their children prior to compulsory school age or by access to specific child care

The Chief Schools Adjudicator said:

“This is my second annual report since taking up post as Chief Adjudicator and it has been another busy year for the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. There has been considerable variety in the cases referred to us and a trend towards increasingly complex cases.

I would like to thank my team of adjudicators, administrative staff and legal advisers for the valuable work they do. Our aim is to address often difficult and emotional disputes with our professional and fair application of the legislation and guidance available to us.”

Notes to editors

1. View the annual report.

2. Dr Elizabeth Passmore was appointed to the post of Chief Schools Adjudicator on 1 November 2011.

3. There are currently eleven 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 7,500 schools are their own admission authority).

And 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.

Contact details

OSA - Press Office
Office of the Schools Adjudicator
Telephone: 0114 2742366