3 December 2013

As the number of complaints rises, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has said that the systems for allocating places in some secondary schools are so complex that parents would have to “study the arrangements carefully, sometimes several years before applying for a place, to ensure that their child will have a realistic chance of gaining a place at the school”.

The OSA’s annual report states that too many admission authorities are not meeting the requirements for “consultation, determination and publication of their arrangements” as laid out in the statutory Schools Admissions Code, and so the chief adjudicator Elizabeth Passmore has called on all schools to comply fully.

Even where academies and free schools are allowed to control their own admissions programme rather than being answerable to the local authority, their rules must still comply with the code.

Although the code clearly sets out the rules for the allocation of places to ensure that the process happens fairly and transparently, some schools appear to be failing to consult parents properly or to publish their rules on their websites early enough so that parents have all the decision-making information required to make their choice.

The watchdog dealt with fewer new complaints this year, 212 compared with 265 last year, but 162 of these concerned admissions compared to 156 last year with most complaints coming directly from parents.