Diocesan Guidance on Admissions to Catholic Schools 2021

Admissions Code 2021 – DfE guidance Issued

An Appointed Day Order has now been signed by the Minister, and the 2021 Code will come into effect from 1 September 2021.

The Department has published two additional pieces of guidance to accompany the 2021 Code and links to the guidance are below.  Both pieces of guidance will need to be reviewed by admission authorities; key points are highlightd below:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1001066/Admissions_priority_for_children_adopted_from_state_care_outside_of_England.pdf

This document aims to provide guidance to admission authorities as to what evidence they might need to consider when they are reviewing an application made for a child who has been adopted having previously been in overseas state care (referred to as IAPLAC).  The number of cases of this nature that admission authorities will need to review will be small, and the range of possible care arrangements is broad.  This means that admission authorities will not be able to build up a body of expertise in the area which will enable them to ensure that they are making consistent decisions.  The guidance suggests that admission authorities seek the advice of the Virtual School Head if they are unsure as to whether the evidence they have been provided with demonstrates that a child should be considered as IAPLAC.  In many cases, the Virtual School Head will already be aware of the particular child’s circumstances, and they will have determined whether or not the child is IAPLAC.  In this case, the admission authority will not be required to ask for further evidence, they can rely on the determination already made by the Virtual School Head.

Where admission authorities are co-ordinating their own in-year admissions, they will need to provide an application form as detailed in Commissioners’ Letter 112.21.  The guidance states that the application form should ask parents to declare whether their child has been adopted from overseas and it should also ask if a local authority or Virtual School Head has previously had any involvement with the child.  The application form should also state that it may be necessary for the admission authority to request evidence of IAPLAC status from the parents.  The guidance goes on to suggest that evidence of IAPLAC in relation to in-year admissions should only be requested if it is necessary to apply the oversubscription criteria.  We would recommend that admission authorities include a question in relation to LAC/PLAC and IAPLAC in their application forms.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1001153/Fair_access_protocols.pdf 

The new FAP guidance is non-statutory and replaces the previous guidance on FAPs dated November 2012.  It is worth noting that this guidance makes it clear that all admission authorities must participate in the FAP and that all schools should be treated in a fair, equitable and consistent manner.  No school should be asked to take a disproportionate number of children and what constitutes a “disproportionate number of children” should be clearly defined locally when agreeing the FAP.  Admission authorities must not refuse to admit a child on the basis that they would be, or they believe they would be, eligible to be placed via the FAP.  The application must be processed as normal.  If the in-year application is refused, the admission authority can then consider whether the child would be eligible to be placed via the FAP and in the event that the admission authority concludes that they are eligible, they should notify the local authority of this.

The Department has also provided us with an FAQ document which they have agreed can be circulated to your schools if you wish.  It should be noted that Local Authorities must make changes to their existing FAPs in order to give effect to the 2021 Code.  A new FAP will need to be operational on 1 September and the 2021 Code requires FAPs to be consulted on and developed in partnership with all schools in the area.