Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1BN
Contact: Luciane Bowker, Democratic Services Officer Tel 0118 974 6091, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive any apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was submitted from Patricia Cuss.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 1 December 2015.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 December 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
A declaration of interest was submitted from Phiala Mehring on the basis that she was a governor at the Forest Academy School.
Sue Riddick, School Admissions Lead Officer announced that this was her last meeting of the Forum as she was retiring from the Council at the end of March. David Babb, Chairman of the Forum thanked Sue for all her help with the School Admissions Forum over the years.
To receive and consider a report informing on consultations issued by the admission authorities for voluntary aided schools and academies.
Sue Riddick introduced the Admission Arrangements for Voluntary Aided Schools and Academies report which was set out on Agenda pages 11-52. The report contained information of consultations issued by the admission authorities for voluntary aided schools and academies where known.
Sue commented on the proposed school arrangements which had been brought to the Forum at the last meeting:
All Saint’s CE Aided Primary School
· Sue recommended greater clarity regarding the timetable for hearing school appeals.
St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School
· The wording around children being admitted outside of their age group was confusing and needed reviewing;
· Criterions 2 and 7 were not clear if they included pre-school children;
· Amalgamation of criterions 3 and 4 was proposed;
· The definition of practicing Catholics needed was clearer;
· It is recommended that waiting lists would close at the end of the academic year and parents would have to re-apply for the following academic year in order to continue on the waiting list.
· The school was advised to reword the third paragraph relating to ‘walking to school’ to say ‘expected to be in the vicinity of the school’;
· Sue had corrected a few typo errors;
· It was suggested that it would be a good idea to give an indication to parents of the likelihood of obtaining a place at the school.
· Sue suggested that the reference to the requirement for Year 11 exam results should be published in the school’s website and signposted in the policy;
· Sue was concerned with the proposed change in catchment area as there was an expectation that places would be offered to local children. Also, given that it was a single sex school, there was a correlation to the allocation of places at the Holt. Phiala Mehring, Forest School Governor explained that the change had been introduced in an effort to ensure the school remained full and financially sound. David Babb suggested that the school included in its marketing literature the statistics of how many boys had been admitted who were from Bracknell and Reading, this would give parents and indication of the likelihood of obtaining a place at the Forest;
· Sue commented on the tie breaker, the distance from the school and the medical grounds, as these had been amended.
Members suggested that it would be helpful to include a space in application form for ‘single sex’ preference. The Chair advised that as applications are received from out of the Borough residents this was not necessary on the application form, the onus must be on parents advising their reasons for choosing the school when expressing a preference for the school.
The Forum was informed that the following schools had commenced consultation on the proposed admission arrangements for 2017/2018 since the last meeting of the Forum: St Sebastian’s CE Aided Primary School; The Piggot School and Oakbank School. The proposed changes and Sue’s comments to the schools is described below.
St Sebastian’s CE Aided Primary School
The school proposed a simplification of its oversubscription criteria ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
School Admission Arrangements 2017/2018
The Forum received a verbal report on the school admission arrangements 2017/2018. (The report had unfortunately been missed from the main Agenda but is attached to these minutes.)
It was explained in the report that the school admission arrangements addressed the local authority’s statutory duty to ensure that all school places for maintained schools and academies (excluding special schools) were allocated and offered in an open and fair way and complied with the School Admissions Code and relevant regulations and legislation and supported the council’s key priorities.
The proposed changes were:
· Clarification to oversubscription criterion B;
· Amendment to the residence requirements to meet oversubscription criteria D and E;
· Amendment to the wording relating to Crown Servants;
· Clarification to waiting lists;
· Proposal to increase the designated area of Nine Mile Ride Primary School;
· Proposal to prioritise two year olds attending school nurseries in the Foundation Stage 1 (F1) admission policy;
· Date changes to the co-ordinated schemes.
The Council had not received any responses or objections to the consultation; therefore the paper was going to be submitted to the 18 February Executive for approval.
To receive and consider the annual report of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.
The Forum considered the Office of the School’s Adjudicator’s Annual Report to the Secretary of State which was set in Agenda pages 53-128. Sue Riddick explained that the report may be used by the government to influence changes to the School Admissions Code, therefore it was import to consider its findings.
Sue’s cover report detailed the main findings of the report. During the discussion of the item the following points were made:
· The report found that converter academies and free schools should understand their responsibilities as own admission authority schools;
· Sue was of the opinion that new applications were only necessary for waiting lists of the next academic year where there were changes to the original application but that parents must advise that they wish to remain on waiting lists for the next academic year;
· The report found that the arrangement for sixth form still frequently contravened the Code. There continued to be misunderstanding about the general requirements that applied to admission to the sixth form. The Forum was advised that the area of sixth forms is likely to be revised in the next Code;
· The report found that admission arrangements for many schools that were their own admission authorities were unnecessarily complex and lacked transparency;
· The report also advised that the guidance provided for schools designated as having a religious character by the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination was o variable availability and quality;
· As widely reported in the press this week, the DFE is likely to reconsider who can make an objection to the arrangements for a particular school, possibly limiting it to those with proper standing for making the objection.
Members noted that the recommendations made this year were similar to previous years.
RESOLVED That: the report be noted.
Dates of Future Meetings
To note the proposed dates of the planned future meetings: 14 June 2016, 2 November 2016 and 11 January 2017. (Subject to approval by the Council on 18 February 2016)
The Forum noted the dates of future meetings (subject to Council approval on 18 February 2016):
· 14 June 2016
· 2 November 2016
· 11 January 2017
It was agreed that it would be useful to organise a training session with Sue Riddick’s successor at the next meeting on 14 June 2016. The following items were suggested for the training:
· The school admissions process;
· The new School Admissions Code;
· The Fair Access Protocol.
Any other business
The Forum asked that Luciane Bowker, Democratic Services Officer contacted Junior Schools to try and recruit a representative to the Forum from that group of schools. Members stated that the School Admission Forum meeting would be useful to any governor, but it would be of particular value to those from schools that were their own admission authorities as the discussions provided a reliable source of information on the school admissions process for schools.
Sue Riddick expressed her appreciation of the work undertaken by the Forum as she felt it had been very helpful to exchange ideas over the years.
RESOLVED That: Luciane Bowker would contact Junior Schools and governors to recruit more Members to the School Admissions Forum.