Is there doubt about free schools having to comply with the admissions code?

The short answer is yes.

Firstly, we don’t yet know what the funding agreements for all the free schools actually look like. We have some, which show variation from the Code.

Secondly, at least one free school has published an admissions policy which apparently (we need to see the funding agreement to confirm) gives priority to ‘children of founders’.

Thirdly, if we look at the current model agreement for free schools it is notably different to that for academies.

The model for free schools includes this:

“12    Other conditions and requirements in respect of the Academy are that:

….

(c) the admissions policy and arrangements for the school will be in accordance with admissions law, and the DfE Codes of Practice, as they apply to maintained schools, subject to any exceptions in Annex B;”

But the equivalent in the model for academies says this:

“12    Other conditions and requirements in respect of the Academy are that:

….

(c) the admissions policy and arrangements for the school will be in accordance with admissions law, and the DfE Codes of Practice, as they apply to maintained schools;”

So it looks as though the Department is anticipating that free school agreements might (as part of their Annex B, which deals with admissions) exempt the application of some parts of the admissions code.

We need to wait and see. But, anyway, remember that funding agreements vary.

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