Free School Funding Agreement departs from the requirements of the Admissions Code on timescales for changing admissions criteria

The first example I have seen of a free school funding agreement not giving full effect to the Admissions Code of Practice comes in the Bristol Free School agreement, kindly just sent to me by the school.

As explained in another post, the model funding agreement for free schools contemplates them departing from the Admissions Code of Practice (and the Adjudicator’s new powers over academy admission arrangements will not bite on those things).

This is the first example I have seen of that actually happening.

The relevant parts of Annex 2 of its funding agreement say this:

“2. The Academy Trust, subject to any exceptions provided in this annex, will act in accordance with, and will ensure that an Independent Appeal Panel is trained to act in accordance with, all relevant provisions of the School Admissions Code and the School Admission Appeals Code published by the Department for Education (“the Codes”) as they apply at any given time to maintained schools and with equalities law and the law on admissions as they apply to maintained schools. For this purpose, reference in the Codes or legislation to “admission authorities” shall be deemed to be references to the governing body of the Academy Trust.”

and:

“10. The Academy admission arrangements will include oversubscription criteria, and an admission number for each relevant age group3. The Academy will consult on its admission arrangements and determine them in line with the requirements within the School Admissions Code, save that in respect of the admission arrangements for the academic years of 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013 for the Bristol Free School, it is recognised that any consultation undertaken will not be in compliance with the procedure set out within the School Admissions Code.”

In other words – the school was being set up so quickly that consultation on the proposed admissions arrangements could not comply with the timing requirements of the Admissions Code (which contemplates consultation/decision on oversubscription criteria taking place well in advance so that everyone knows where they stand in good time).

  2 comments for “Free School Funding Agreement departs from the requirements of the Admissions Code on timescales for changing admissions criteria

  1. Charlie
    November 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Hi David, you may not be aware that the admissions criteria for this school vary because some parents in a more prosperous area of Bristol (Henleaze, Westbury) wanted to set up a school for their children, not for the more deprived area of Southmead where the school ended up being located.

    They wanted the school to be located at the site of the former St. Ursula’s independent school near their homes. However the more urgent need for primary places was partly met with a primary academy here. There is an extreme shortage of primary places locally which the Free School didn’t want to address, but an excess of secondary places, so the new Free School compromises other secondaries. They also designed a school for the St. U’s site that would not fit, would be very expensive (Grade II listed buildings, conservation site), and stood no chance of meeting planning and traffic requirements. They also (with the help of the local MP) thwarted a more realistic plan of a primary/secondary school on the St. U’s site that used current resources, cost little, and was already effectively running as an independent school, already saved by Oasis once, and waiting to convert. This school’s secondary children, with > 35 % SEN was displaced – not good for the kids.

    Why ? Because they wanted an exclusive school for their children, and as you can see, they were prepared to do this at the expense of children and families in greater need.

    Therefore the “catchment area” for the new school accommodates the more prosperous areas, not those near to the school.

    Let’s hope that politicians see the light and allow school planning to happen in a more coordinated, competent way, that addresses the needs of children, rather than political ambition.

  2. governor
    January 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I am a parent governor at an RC VA school. The school would like to become an academy, primarily because of the freedoms and financial advantages it offers. Our diocese will not allow us to go down the single model route and wishes us to be an academy under an umbrella or federation of schools multi academy model.
    This gives control to the diocese and defeats the object of independance. Should we stay an impoverished VA school or do we have other options? The diocesan trustees have not always behaved properly in the past and even under the single model academy proposal could appoint their own lackeys as directors which could also screw the school?
    Help!

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