In accordance with Michael Gove’s desire that every School in England be given the opportunity to become an Academy* and benefit from the ability to govern themselves, the Department for Education (“DfE”) is considering an increasing number of proposals for existing schools converting or new Schools opening their doors as an Academy. Most Academy Trusts are aware of their obligation to consult interested parties regarding the proposal to establish an Academy in the first place, but less are aware that as the Academy will be its own admission authority it is under an obligation to develop an admissions policy that is consistent with the School Admissions Code 2012 (“the Code”)**. Under the Code it is necessary to consult interested stakeholders on the proposed admissions criteria to be applied to applicants. If existing academies propose any changes to their admission arrangements they must also consult interested parties in accordance with the Code. There are a few statutory deadlines that are worth bearing in mind when undertaking an admissions consultation.
Statutory Framework for consulting on Admission arrangements
- Admission authorities are under an obligation to consult for 8 weeks on the proposed admission arrangements generally between 1 November and 1 March.
- 15 April – is the deadline for all admission authorities to determine their admission arrangements.
- 1 May – is the deadline for the local authority to publish information on how any individual may refer objections regarding proposed admission arrangements to the Schools Adjudicator.
- 8 August - is the deadline for governing bodies to provide admission arrangements information to their local authority to allow them to compile composite prospectus.
It is imperative that Academy Trusts are aware that they should not start to recruit pupils under any new or amended admission arrangements without first having undertaken a consultation process to obtain the views of interested parties. To do so otherwise may lead to a complaint that the Trust has breached the Code.