The admissions code details each admissions authority's requirements regarding consulting on and determining admissions arrangements. Consultations are optional and allow an admissions authority to propose changes that may affect which children are offered a school place. Determination of admissions arrangements is a responsibility of all admissions authorities which must be completed every year, even if no changes have been made.
Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and UTCs that wish to make changes to their admissions arrangements are legally required to hold a public consultation to allow interested parties to respond to proposals. The local authority consults on behalf of Community and Voluntary Controlled schools each year.
Consultations must last for a minimum of 6 weeks and must take place between 1 October and 31 January for entry into school the following September. This means the deadline for starting a consultation is 20 December to allow the necessary time for it to run for 6 weeks before 31 January. Admission authorities should avoid starting and ending consultations on a weekend.
There are some circumstances when a consultation is not needed. An own admission authority school is not required to consult on its Published Admissions Number (PAN) where it proposes to either increase or keep the same PAN. A consultation is not required if the change is to incorporate a new legal requirement of the admissions code. A consultation may also not be needed if an admissions authority wishes to make an amendment to clarify their current arrangements, without changing the meaning. In this case, you should contact the admissions team to discuss the details. Any other change to your arrangements will require a formal consultation.
Where admissions arrangements have not changed from the previous year, there is no requirement to consult, subject to the requirement that admissions authorities must consult on their arrangements at least once every 7 years, even if there have been no changes during that period.
Admission authorities must consult with (as a minimum):
- parents of children between the ages of two and eighteen
- other persons in the relevant area who in the opinion of the admission authority have an interest in the proposed admissions
- all other admission authorities within the relevant area (except that primary schools need not consult secondary schools)
- whichever of the governing body and the local authority who are not the admission authority
- any adjoining neighbouring local authorities where the admission authority is the local authority
- in the case of faith schools, the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination.
Admission authorities for schools designated as having a religious character must have regard to any guidance from the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination when constructing faith-based admission arrangements, to the extent that the guidance complies with the mandatory provisions and guidelines of the School Admissions Code. They must also consult with the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination when deciding how membership or practice of the faith is to be demonstrated. Church of England schools must, as required by the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 1991, consult with their diocese about proposed admission arrangements before any public consultation.
For the duration of the consultation period, the admission authority must publish a copy of their full proposed admissions arrangements (including the proposed PAN) on their website together with details of the person within the admissions authority to whom comments may be sent. Admissions authorities must also actively engage with the persons or bodies listed above inviting comment. Admission authorities are advised to make use of electronic and traditional communication methods to reach the widest possible audience. Failure to consult effectively may be grounds for subsequent complaints and appeals. This could lead to a reversal of any determined changes.
In addition to each admissions authority's own consultation, the LA offers to display arrangements for own admission authority schools on the KCC website. It is recommended that schools make use of this facility as the LA will likely be consulting during the same period and parents will be visiting the website, leading to more effective consultations. Sending us your arrangements for hosting will also constitute you fulfilling your responsibility to consult with us as we will monitor each document. KCC cannot consult on behalf of own admission authority schools. The LA will direct parents wishing to comment on arrangements for own admission authority schools to the Chair of Governors care of the relevant school.
When preparing your admission arrangements documents, please take care to include:
- Published Admissions Number (PAN)
- details of oversubscription criteria
- details of the tiebreaker used to decide between two applications that cannot otherwise be separated
- definitions of all phrases used (eg faith, sibling, ability etc)
- a copy of any Supplementary Information Form (SIF) if used by the school. A school may only ask for information on a SIF that is relevant to the published oversubscription criteria.
- details of any tests used by the school to rank children
- map of any priority zone (if the school has any)
- information about a parent's right to defer entry or start their child part-time (Primary) and to apply for their child for a school place outside their expected year group (Primary and Secondary)
Pages 7 - 17 of the Admissions Code (PDF, 681.6 KB) provide information about what constitutes legal oversubscription criteria. This information has been summarised here.
All admission authorities must formally determine arrangements by 28 February every year, even if they have not changed from previous years. Where a consultation has not been required, admission authorities can simply update their arrangements to include new dates and deadlines.
Once admission authorities have determined their arrangements they must publish a copy on their website, displaying them for the whole offer year. A copy must be sent to the LA as soon as possible before 15 March. Each own admissions authority must do this every year, regardless of whether a consultation has taken place, or if no changes have been made to the consultation document following determination. Schools must ensure that they do not remove the current year's admission arrangements from their website when adding new determined arrangements as parents will still need to be able to access this information.
If an admissions authority has determined a PAN that is higher than in previous years, they must notify the LA when sending their arrangements back.
It is important that schools/governing bodies keep a record of all discussions that lead to the determining of arrangements. Where a school has consulted on a change, it would be good practice to inform all respondents of the outcome of the consultation. Schools are not obliged to make changes when determining their arrangements following feedback from the consultation, however, objections can be made to the schools adjudicator up until 15th May and beyond, so schools may be required to prove their decision making process was reasonable.
If the schools adjudicator informs a school that their arrangements are deficient or that a proper consultation was not held, admission authorities are legally obliged to make the required changes within 2 months of the decision being made.
The admissions code requires the local authority to inform the schools adjudicator where a school's admissions arrangements do not fulfill the necessary requirements. Admissions authorities will be informed before this update is sent to allow them time to make the required changes.
Pages 18 - 20 of the Admissions Code (PDF, 681.6 KB) provide the full guidance of the consultation and determination processes.