School admissions are often unnecessarily complex, unfair or unclear, according to a report written by chief schools adjudicator Elizabeth Passmore. In the final report that she has released prior to retirement, Ms Passmore stated that schools which have authority over their own admissions, like academies or faith schools, are more likely to be at fault.
England's school admissions code requires places to be offered in a fair and open way, with arrangements set out so that parents can understand easily how places for that school will be allocated.
Admission arrangements run by local authorities for community and voluntary-controlled schools "are almost always clear and uncomplicated so it is easy for parents and others to understand how places will be allocated" says the report, which was published late last year.
However, "the complexity of some schools' admission arrangements continues to be a matter of concern," writes Dr Passmore.
The report highlights that schools who manage their own admissions often have many different levels of priority, which means it can be unclear how the arrangements apply. These complex arrangements can include numerous oversubscription criteria, different sub-categories of places, more than one catchment area, feeder schools, banding tests and aptitude assessments.
In addition, many school websites don't publish their admission arrangements clearly or even at all, while some faith schools ask parents to fill in supplementary forms, asking for information prohibited under the code.
A Department for Education spokesman said the government wanted every child to have the opportunity of going to a good local school. The government has confirmed that it plans to review the findings and take action where needed.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels