Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

School Admissions 2015-16

The Panel is asked to scrutinise key points from the annual report by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to the Schools Adjudicator about admission arrangements,      recent trends in planned admissions to primary and secondary schools and information about admission appeals.

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience who gave an overview of School Admissions 2015-16. She highlighted that two objections to admission arrangements for own admission authority schools had subsequently been received and looked in to. She asked that the Panel note that the Department for Education had stated its intention to consult on proposed changes to the Schools Admissions Code 2014 in order to provide statutory guidance regarding summer born children.

 

She continued that Royal Borough of Greenwich had offered 96.5% primary preference offers in 2016 despite the fact that the number of applications has increased. Three children were allocated a school more than two miles from their home address but had subsequently secured places at preference schools either from the waiting list or a successful appeal.

 

The Panel was interested in comparable data with other authorities. The Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience explained that it was not possible to access comparable data from other authorities. The information published was in relation to offers made to schools regardless of borough residency, and not offers made to Royal Greenwich residents regardless of where the school is based.

 

In response to a question regarding how many of the 134 allocated a Royal Borough of Greenwich school were late applications, the officer responded that there were 57.

 

The Panel also asked if there was a geographical pattern for parents who did not receive their first preference, to which the officer replied that she felt not, but that there was scope for review. The Panel asked that information be provided at Ward level of children that did not get any of their preference places particularly for secondary placements.

Action: Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience

 

The Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience explained that for places in secondary transfer there had been a significant increase in demand in 2015-16. This was attributed to various factors including rising standards, investment in buildings and facilities and improvements to the admissions brochure.

 

Three applicants refused the allocation offered, of which one has since found a place, one moved to Kent and the other child was logged as having made alternative arrangements.

 

She further said that the Council had consulted on proposed changes to its school banding arrangements and Cabinet had agreed that they should be reviewed and amended.

 

The Panel enquired what the Year 7 Published Admission Number (PAN) was for Corelli College and what the Year 7 vacancy rates were. The Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience replied that the PAN was 240 and that the school had increased its Year 7 places two years ago. The current vacancy rates were Corelli College 32, International Academy Greenwich 28, Plumstead Manor School 14 and St Mary Magdalene CE School (secondary phase) 14.

 

A Panel member questioned if the balance of single sex schools had an impact and was concerned that Plumstead Manor had 14 vacancies as it had previously been an oversubscribed school. Another Panel member suggested that this might be due to the school’s Ofsted report or parents preferring a mixed school. The officer responded that Plumstead Manor was an improving school and there was an informal consultation being undertaken for the school to become co-educational from September 2018.

 

The Panel asked if vulnerable children and those with disabilities had difficulties obtaining school places in the borough. The officer refuted this, Greenwich schools were very inclusive. All schools were aware of the legislation that gives priority to children who are vulnerable or disabled, and would be challenged if they were not meeting their obligations.

 

In response to a question from the Panel the officer said that on occasion a school might question an admission decision made by the Fair Access Panel (FAP). In such instances, a discussion would take place with the school to see if there were extenuating circumstances as to why the school could not best meet a child’s needs. The case might be referred back to FAP for further consideration.

 

The Panel queried the authority’s relationship with the Harris Academy to which the officer replied that the borough had a good working relationship with them. The academy fully participated in the Fair Access Panel process, including admitting children as a managed move (to avoid permanent exclusion).

 

The Head of Admissions, Place Planning, Systems and Resilience had not needed to use the Powers of Direction for several years.

 

The Panel asked about the Local Authority report to the Schools Adjudicator which stated that the borough did not have any information about how many schools parents might have approached before obtaining a place and was not confident that schools had kept the local authority informed in a timely manner in respect of applications and their outcomes. The officer explained that there had been changes to legislation and it was now statutory that schools advised the local authority of children joining and leaving their roll in a timely manner.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children and Young Peoples Services said that she was pleased how straightforward and clearly set out the admissions process was. The Cabinet Member and the Chair thanked the Admissions team for their work.

 

Resolved:

 

1.     That the Panel noted the key points from the annual report by the Royal Borough of Greenwich to the Schools Adjudicator about admission arrangements.

 

2.     That the Panel noted the recent trends in planned admissions to primary and secondary schools.

 

3.     That the Panel noted the information about admission appeals.

Supporting documents: