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School Admissions Policy Consultation

Consultation:  Admission arrangements for September 2015
All Admission authorities are required to consult on changes to admission arrangements at this time of year.  Following feedback over recent months we have been asked to include the holding of waiting lists and the sibling rule for in year admissions as part of this consultation.  In addition the Schools Adjudicator has recently released her annual report and has highlighted concerns around the clarity of sixth form admission arrangements.  We are therefore drawing this to your attention and, for community secondary schools, inviting you to set a year 12 admission number for external students.
The potential changes below will relate to the admission arrangements for Community and Voluntary Controlled schools in Leeds from September 2015. This consultation is taking place from 6 Dec 2013 and will close on 31 January 2014. 
1. Removing the requirements to hold waiting list outside of the normal admissions round. 
Admissions authorities have a legal duty to hold a waiting list in the normal admissions round (i.e. reception and year 7) in line with the admissions policy for a minimum of the first term of the academic year. In addition, we currently choose to hold waiting lists for all year groups for the full academic year.  Previously some Aided schools held waiting lists, but not community schools, and sometimes schools held informal lists of parents who were interested in a place at their school.  This was confusing for parents as they were not clear when they were or were not on a waiting list.
The waiting list enables a parent to make a request once, and know that whenever a place becomes available they will be considered in line with the admissions policy. If waiting lists are removed schools will not be able to hold any contact details or other information about parents who have expressed an interest in the school. Instead families will have to reapply. This could result in schools carrying vacancies for longer after a child leaves and may also result in more applications as parents continually reapply in the hope of a place becoming available.  It also means that a parent who lives some distance away, but manages to apply at the time a vacancy arises, would be offered a place possibly only days after a parent living close to the school has been turned down.
It is, however, recognised that under the current in-year process parents apply directly to schools, and for community and voluntary controlled schools the need to contact the admissions team and check waiting list positions has felt time consuming. We have therefore been asked to consider only holding them for the legal minimum required.
We would welcome your views and feedback on the holding of waiting lists.  
2. Clarification to the note regarding applications outside the normal admissions round. 
In this section of the policy it is proposed that we amend the wording to ensure that families who are making applications outside of the normal admissions round will receive sibling priority for both younger and older siblings, in an attempt to ensure families can gain places at the same school.  After a minor change to the Admission policy last year when children with ‘older’ siblings received the priority it has been found that an unintended negative consequence has resulted in in-year admissions that we would like to rectify
3. Sixth Form admissions 
The Schools Adjudicator has highlighted that sixth form admission arrangements are not always clear and it is important that we ensure we remain compliant with the Admissions Code.  In recent years Leeds secondary schools with sixth forms have not been seeking to admit pupils from other schools and have therefore not required an Admission number or policy to be set for year 12.  It is possible to deal with ad hoc applications by simply ensuring that the course criteria for internal and external candidates are the same.
Increasingly head teachers and governing bodies are considering the future of their sixth forms.  To ensure that you are able to act appropriately, and compliantly with the Admissions Code, we are inviting all community secondary schools to consider if they wish to set an admission number for year 12.  The admission number relates only to students applying from other schools, and it would be the intention that the standard admission policy would apply.  The setting of an admission number for year 12 would allow schools to ‘seek’ to admit external students, for example the advertising of sixth form open evenings.  Please be aware that the appeal process applies to sixth form in a very similar way to the other year groups, but both the student and the parent have a right of appeal.
We will post proposed numbers on the website as the consultation progresses and send a summary to all secondary schools towards the end of the consultation for transparency. 
Appended to this email are the co-ordinated arrangements which will be published on 1 January 2014 in accordance with the code. There is no change in principle to last years, and the only changes are to dates.
If you would like to comment on these any of the proposed changes you can e-mail to education.admission@leeds.gov.uk or you can send them in writing to: Admissions Team, Children’s Services, PO Box 837, Leeds. LS1 9PZ.
Last year we consulted on how the policy could better support young carers. Although there was some support for this in principle it was clear that the issue was complex, and we undertook to complete further research on the issue before making any decisions. This work has concluded that there are not significant issues with accessing a school place in the first place, but a number of actions have been identified to better support them once in school. The issue does not therefore form part of this year’s consultation.