Agenda and minutes

School Admissions Forum
Monday, 29th January, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN. View directions

Contact: Luciane Bowker  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the remainder of the 2017/18 academic year.

Minutes:

David Babb was elected Chairman of School Admissions Forum for the remainder of 2017/18 academic year.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Vice-Chairman for the remainder of the 2017/18 academic year.

Minutes:

Beth Rowland was appointed Vice-Chairman of School Admissions Forum for the remainder of 2017/18 academic year.

3.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Fiona Hayward, Ben Gobler, Amanda Woodfin, Sue Runciman, Celia Thatcher and Councillors Kate Haines and Beth Rowland.

 

The Chairman stated that it would be good if a secondary school governor representative was able to join the Forum.  Luciane Bowker, Democratic and Elections Specialist would try and recruit a volunteer to join the Forum.

4.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 158 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 11 January 2017.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 January 2017 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

5.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

6.

Wokingham School Admission Arrangements 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To receive and consider a report in relation to the proposed school admission arrangements for 2019/20 in Wokingham Borough.

Minutes:

Piers Brunning, Strategy and Commissioning Places Specialist addressed the Forum and informed that the report related to the 2019/20 school admission arrangements.

 

Piers Brunning explained that the arrangements incorporated changes to the designated areas of two Earley primary schools that were part of the arrangements determined by the Executive in 2017 for the 2018/19 year that were removed following an adverse School Adjudicator decision in July 2017.  These changes were to ensure that Earley resident children were more likely to secure a local school place. 

 

Piers stated that the proposed changes were as follows:

 

The changes to designated areas proposed were:

·           That the designated area of Loddon Primary School be extended to include that of Aldryngton Primary School. The designated area of Aldryngton Primary School would remain unchanged from that established in the original 2017/18 and amended 2018/19 arrangements.

·           That the designated area of Whiteknights Primary School be extended to include that of Radstock Primary School. The designated area of Radstock Primary School would remain unchanged from that established in the original 2017/18 and amended 2018/19 arrangements.

 

Two further changes from the 2017/18 arrangements were:

·           a tightening of the definition of “residency” to minimise “gaming” of the admission system to secure places by short term moves from permanent homes and;

·           to make it clear that when a child (who has not yet reached the age of statutory education) starts a Reception class the parents can decide if that child should attend on a full or part time basis.

 

During the discussion of the arrangements the following comments were made:

 

·           In relation to the parents’ right to decide if a child who has not yet reached the age of statutory education should attend on a full or part time basis,   David Babb was of the opinion that some wording around agreeing on a sensible arrangement with the Headteacher should be included.  David was worried that parents could decide to send their children to school at a time that was convenient for them and not necessarily in the best interest of the child;

·           Patricia Cuss agreed that this issue created difficulties, especially because different schools had different approaches; 

·           Louisa Gurney believed that schools should offer full admission from the first day of school, however some schools had different arrangements;

·           David Babb stated that it was illegal for a school not offer full time education if that was the parents wish;

·           Louise Gurney stated that in her experience most parents that requested part time had been sensible and been able to come an agreement with the school;

·           David Babb stated that the Department for Education (DfE) was looking to make it more explicit to schools that it was illegal to have different year groups starting school one day after the others;

·           Louise Gurney stated that it was difficult for schools to monitor school attendance of children who were not yet at statutory school age;

·           Piers Brunning stated that the Schools Adjudicator had determined that the 20181/17 admissions arrangements were deficient due  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

Email from Sue Runciman pdf icon PDF 35 KB

7.

Dates of Future Meetings

To note the dates of the planned future meetings (subject to approval at the Council meeting in May 2018)

 

·           6 June 2018

·           12 November 2018

·           30 January 2019

Minutes:

The dates for planned future meetings of the Forum up to 2019 were noted:

 

·           6 June 2018

·           12 November 2018

·           30 January 2019

8.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

Term Dates

Piers Brunning explained that it was not yet clear who would undertake the task of setting out term dates under the new 21st Century Council re-organisation.  Paul Senior, Director for People Services had spoken to Piers about it and stated that he had noted that this was something that School Admissions Forum normally discussed.  Piers was seeking the views of Wokingham’s School Admissions Forum regarding this suggestion.

 

David Babb stated that he had participated in nine different School Admissions Forums when they were compulsory and none of them had been involved in setting out term dates.  He pointed out that legally schools had to offer 190 school days to pupils, and schools that were their own admission authorities could arrange their term dates as they wished.

 

Piers Brunning stated that historically in Wokingham term dates had not been submitted to Executive, this had always been an officer decision and there was no statutory process around this.

 

Members were in agreement that parents expected some co-ordination in setting out term dates.  It could cause problems for schools and families if there was no co-ordination, however all were in agreement that this function was not something they should be discussed at School Admissions Forum.

 

School Admissions Forum

David Babb stated as School Admissions Forums were not statutory not all Local Authorities still had them.  In view of the fact that Sue Riddick’s post had not been replaced and there was an issue with Officers’ capacity he asked if this Forum should be continued.

 

Piers Brunning informed that had conversations with the current Interim Assistant Director for Education and the Interim Director of People Services and they were of the opinion that Wokingham should continue to have a School Admissions Forum.

 

Louise Gurney asked where the discussions around school admissions would take place if not at School Admissions Forum.  Piers Brunning believed they would occur at political level.

 

RESOLVED That:

 

1)     School Admissions Forum would not consider matters in relation to school term dates; and

 

2)     Wokingham’s School Admissions Forum questioned the continuity of the Forum in view of the recent restructure and reduced staff levels in the Local Authority.