Getting Your Child into a School
For any parent (which I am) sending your child to school for the first time is a big event, not only for a child, but also for the parent. Any parent wants the best for their child and picking the right school is important. Luckily, in Cornwall we have good schools, and there are no major issues in any of our schools.
This is reflected in the first choice placements for children in our schools. For secondary school out of a total of 5125 applications 99.4% got their first preference. There were five appeals, two were upheld, with three refused. This result has placed Cornwall Council second in the ranking of Local Authorities in England for placements.
For primary schools there were 4955 applications which 92.8% were offered their first choice preference. However, there have been 219 appeals submitted for admission. Of the 111 appeals which have been held, 32 have been upheld and 79 refused. Again this is a good result, but slightly down on last years figures of 96%.
Now for my worry, Academies. I highlighted a few concerns I have with Academies in a previous blog, but a bigger concern I have is with admissions to these Academies. In an Academy school the school’s governing body is the admissions authority and sets the admissions policy and over-subscription criteria. Academies, as independent schools, must agree their admissions policies with the Secretary of State – Are alarm bells ringing yet?
As more and more schools become Academies it will be necessary to maintain close communication between them and the Local Authority in order to maintain a sufficient supply of school places and a fair and equitable admissions scheme. A new draft Admissions Code has recently been published by the government and is currently being consulted on; Cornwall Council will submit its response during August.
This is all fine and dandy, but what happen if an Academy becomes more ‘selective’ in pupil admission? I am not saying this will happen, but it could very easily, especially as the Local Authority no longer has direct control. For some parents an Academy might be interpreted as better school (which is not the case) and the demand for a place could be high. Will there be a temptation of taking those from a more fortunate background?
If the Local Authority suspects this is happening then is can raise their concern with the Sec of State, Mr Gove (at time of writing). The LA might also be able to call in an Ofsted inspection. Is this really good enough? I think you know the answer to that.
Maybe the Government has thought of stopping Academies being more selective in their admissions by raising the amount paid in the pupil premium. Pupil premium is the extra money a school gets for every child that is entitled to a free school meal. Currently it is £400, but is set to rise. Could this be the incentive a school needs to take in children for less fortunate backgrounds? It could be a big influence as Academies are in charge of their own budgets just like a business would be.
You can see why I have grave reservations with Academies.