Schools Places 'Free-for-All' May Lead to New Rules

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Byline: TIM MILES

THE Government is considering new rules on school admissions aimed at preventing some parents "playing the system" and depriving others of a place in local schools.

A consultation paper due next month will propose giving back to local education authorities the key role in co-ordinating admissions throughout their area. may also suggest revisions to the admissions code of practice published two years ago.

It comes as thousands of London parents wait for the results of admission appeals after being denied places for their children in popular local schools.

Government-funded research shows that more than 30 per cent of London parents fail to find place in their first preference school, compared with only 15 per cent nationwide.

And appeals by London parents are far less likely to be successful.

In some inner London authorities only five per cent of appeals succeed, compared with more than 30 per cent throughout England.

In London, as highlighted by the Evening Standard, groups of parents are campaigning for new local schools after being denied places at popular church or former grant maintained schools, which control their own admissions.

The proliferation of schools which act as their own admis- sions authorities, coupled with the ability of parents to seek places across borough boundaries, has created a free-for-all in which many parents lose out.

Ministers made clear in a policy paper published in April that they are concerned about the results. They promised to investigate the "scope for better management of admissions, and better ways of avoiding the concentration of the most disadvantaged pupils in the least popular schools". …