Admissions Guidance

AET is the admissions authority for its academies.

Each academy is required to publish its admissions arrangements in the middle column of the Statutory Information page of its website, in accordance with annual procedures set out in this guidance and following the web-page template (link below).

Contents

      • Legal requirements
      • Annual process
      • Timeline
      • Consultation
      • Consultation process
      • Published Admission Number (PAN)
      • Oversubscription criteria
      • Appeals
      • Equality impact assessment
      • Other relevant detail from the legislation

Legal requirements

In determining the admission arrangements for each of its academies, AET is required to comply with the government’s School Admissions Code.

Each academy is required to publish its admissions arrangements following a standard AET web-page template, including links to the arrangements for the current year and the two following years.

Individual academy policies are determined by:

      • The School Admissions Code’s statutory requirements;
      • The agreement of the annual published admissions number (PAN);
      • The over-subscription criteria that will be applied to the allocation of places should an individual academy have more applications than it has school places on offer.

The AET Governor Services Team works in partnership with the Trust’s Estates Division and the local authority admission team to manage the process of agreeing, increasing or decreasing school capacities and the confirmation of associated published admission numbers (PAN), which are the maximum numbers of pupils admitted to a year group annually. PAN values are determined in relation to an academy building’s physical capacity and the demand for school places in that academy’s area.

Queries regarding this process should be directed to the Head of Schools Governance mgee@academiesenterprisetrust.org

Annual process

The Admissions Code requires that the admission authority (AET) must determine admission arrangements annually. Where changes are proposed to admission arrangements, the admission authority must first publicly consult on those arrangements, where this is deemed necessary and set out as a statutory requirement in the Admissions Code.

The determination process works almost TWO years in advance. For example the policies that apply for admission to schools in September 2021 must be determined during the Autumn Term of 2019.

In order to comply with the Admissions Code, consultation on any changes to admission arrangements for any academy, where required, has to commence six weeks before the annual deadline of 31 January at the latest. In order to meet this deadline:

        • academy principals must consider their admission arrangements by November and notify the Governor Services Team of any proposed changes;
        • any proposed changes to admission arrangements will be considered and agreed by Phase Directors, and must be approved by AET’s Chief Financial Officer before being communicated back to the academy and Governor Services Team;
        • consultation on any proposed changes must allow at least SIX weeks of consultation ahead of the 31 January deadline.

Timeline

        • September: academies are required to review their admission arrangements, PANs and other capacity issues. This should take place in liaison with the Governor Services Team, Estates Division and Phase Directors.
        • October: academies should decide if they wish to increase or decrease their Published Admissions Number (PAN) or change any of their oversubscription criteria.
        • October/November: final agreement on PANs and oversubscription criteria is made by liaison with Phase Directors, the Estates Division and Governor Services Team.
        • November/December: Draft final arrangements are agreed and consultation begins, where this is required.
        • 31 January: End of consultation period on PAN reductions and changes to oversubscription criteria, which must run for SIX weeks before the deadline.
        • 28 February: Final arrangements should be agreed internally by academies within the Trust.
        • 15 March: Arrangements for the relevant year should be provided to local authority admission teams for inclusion in their annual ‘brochure’ to parents applying for school places in the relevant applications cycle.
        • 15 May: Deadline for any objections to the new arrangements being sent to the Schools’ Adjudicator.

Consultation

Consultation is required in the following circumstances:

        • If an academy proposed to REDUCE its published admissions number (PAN);
        • If an academy proposes to change any of its oversubscription criteria;
        • If an academy has not been required to consult for a period of SEVEN years

In all events, AET and its academies are keen to work with local authority admissions teams to ensure that there are enough school places for children in a particular local authority area. To that end effective liaison with local authority admission teams is encouraged.

From time to time, there may be issues in a particular local authority area in relation to either the over or under supply of school places. AET is keen to liaise on these matters and works to ensure that matters are resolved in the spirit of fairness and equality.

Special academies have different admission arrangements as all children are admitted on the basis of a statement of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). They should review their arrangements taking account of their particular circumstances.

Admissions appeals in relation to any academy should be referred to the local authority admissions team, who will be able to facilitate an admissions appeal process to hear appeals for school places that have not been allocated for that academy for a particular applicant.

Consultation process

If no changes are made to admission arrangements, they must be consulted on at least every 7 years. Consultation must be for a minimum of 6 weeks and must take place between 1 October and 31 January of the year before those arrangements are to apply. For example: for arrangements, which are to apply to applications in 2018 (entry in September 2019), consultation must be completed by 31 January 2018. This consultation period allows parents, other schools, religious authorities and the local community to raise any concerns about proposed admission arrangements.

Admission authorities for academies must consult with:

        • parents of children between the ages of two and eighteen;
        • other persons in the relevant area who in the opinion of the admission authority have an interest in the proposed admissions;
        • all other admission authorities within the relevant area (except that primary schools need not consult secondary schools); and
        • the local authority.

For the duration of the consultation period, the admission authority must publish a copy of their full proposed admission arrangements (including the proposed PAN) on their website together with details of the person within the admission authority to whom comments may be sent and the areas on which comments are not sought.

Admission authorities must also send upon request a copy of the proposed admission arrangements to any of the persons or bodies listed above inviting comment. Failure to consult effectively may be grounds for subsequent complaints and appeals.

Published Admission Number (PAN)

As part of determining their admission arrangements, all admission authorities must set an admission number for each Relevant Age Group. This is the age group at which pupils are or will normally be admitted to the academy e.g. reception or year 7.

Admission authorities for academies are not required to consult on their PAN where they propose either to increase or keep the same PAN. Admission authorities must notify their local authority of their intention to increase the academy’s PAN and reference to the change should be made on the academy’s website.

All admission authorities must consult where they propose a decrease to the PAN.

Oversubscription criteria

Academies must have oversubscription criteria for each Relevant Age Group and the highest priority must be given, unless otherwise provided in the Admissions Code, to looked after children and previously looked after children. Previously looked after children are children who were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or became subject to a residence order or special guardianship order);

All children whose Education, Health and Care Plan names the academy must be admitted unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so;

Oversubscription criteria must be reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and comply with all relevant legislation, including equalities legislation. Admission authorities must ensure that their arrangements will not disadvantage unfairly, either directly or indirectly, a child from a particular social or racial group, or a child with a disability or special educational needs, and that other policies around school uniform or school trips do not discourage parents from applying for a place for their child;

The admission authority for an academy must set out in its arrangements the criteria against which places will be allocated at the academy when there are more applications than places and the order in which the criteria will be applied.

Appeals

Although the Trust is the Admission Authority it delegates the responsibility for appeals back to the Local Authority. Parents who wish to appeal the decision of the admissions authority to refuse their child a place at an Academy may apply in writing to the Academy where appeals will be heard by an independent panel organised by the local authority. Each academy should use their local authority for the organisation of the appeal panel and any related hearings.

Equality impact assessment

It is important that admissions arrangements do not discriminate, directly or indirectly against any group or individual with a protected characteristic. Poverty and disadvantage are not in themselves protected characteristics and giving priority to children from families in receipt of free school meals is not in breach of equality legislation. The Trust and Principals should ensure that they consider equality impact when proposing their admission arrangements.

Other relevant details from the legislation

The Admissions Code is issued under Section 84 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (“SSFA 1998”) and was last revised in September 2014. It applies to admissions to all state funded schools in England and imposes mandatory requirements, which include guidelines setting out aims, objectives and other matters in relation to the discharge of functions of admissions authorities.

Academies are required, by their funding agreements, to comply with the Admissions Code and the law relating to admissions, though the Secretary of State has the power to vary this requirement where there is demonstrable need.

An academy trust is the admissions authority for all academies for which it is the proprietor. It is the responsibility of admission authorities to ensure that admission arrangements are compliant with the Admissions Code.

The purpose of the Admissions Code is to ensure that all school places for state-funded schools (excluding maintained special schools) are allocated and offered in an open and fair way. The Code has the force of law, and where the words ‘must’ or ‘must not’ are used, these represent a mandatory requirement.

In drawing up their admission arrangements, admission authorities must ensure that the practices and the criteria used to decide the allocation of school places are fair, clear and objective. Parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school or academy will be allocated.

Objections to the admission arrangements of both maintained schools and academies can be made to the Schools Adjudicator whose decisions are binding and enforceable.