Agenda and draft minutes

School Admissions Forum - Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Luciane Bowker  Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist

No. Item


Appointment of Chairman

To appoint a Chairman for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year.


Sue Runciman was appointed Chairman for the remainer of the 2020/21 academic year.


Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Vice-Chairman for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year.



Ben Godber was appointed Vice-Chairman for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year.



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were submitted from Patricia Cuss and Celia Thatcher.


Luciane Bowker, Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist stated that David Babb was standing down from the Forum, and Christine Jones would be joining the Forum in his place in the future.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 June 2018.


The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 6 June 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


It was agreed that there would be little point in considering the actions from minutes of a meeting that had been held over a year and a half ago, particularly in view of Sal Thirlway’s report and conclusions, which he went on to share in Agenda item 6.


Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest.


School Admission Arrangements Update pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To receive and consider a report updating the Forum on school admissions arrangements proposals.


Sal Thirlway, Assistant Director for Learning, Achievements and Partnerships presented the School Admissions Arrangements Update report which was set out in agenda pages 13-18.


Sal Thirlway stated that he was aware that School Admissions Forum had not had a meeting since June 2018.  Since he started working in his current role he had talked to colleagues and considered options about the best way forward for the Forum, the report contained his proposal.


Sal Thirlway stated that as a result of re-structuring within the Council, the School Admissions Team had been moved to the Customer Localities department.  He believed that not enough consideration had been given to the importance of this service and the service was not operating at the desired level. 


Sal Thirlway stated that the senior management had decided to move the School Admissions Team back to Children’s Services, it was now part of his portfolio.  He recognised that the team needed more resources to operate at the right level.  It was also necessary to re-think processes to make them more efficient.


Sal Thirlway stated that School Admissions Forum was a non-statutory body; although the discussions held at the Forum were informative, the Forum had no ability to affect decisions or influence the development of policies.  He was proposing to change the Forum to a Task and Finish Group where there would be an opportunity to co-produce and challenge the admissions processes and policies.  He envisaged a broad membership on this Task and Finish Group, involving schools, parents and professionals.  The Task and Finish Group would report to Schools Forum.


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


·           Sal Thirlway emphasised that he wished to encourage the co-production of solutions and response to challenges;

·           Councillor Kerr was uncertain about the new group being called a task and finish group, as those usually were set up to look at a specific issue for a limited time, she wished the scrutiny of school admissions to be ongoing; it was thought therefore that this might need to be referred to as ‘working group’;

·           Ben Godber stated that there was a Finance Task and Finish Group of Schools Forum which had been in operation for the last three years and was ongoing, and this worked well;

·           Sal Thirlway stated that there was no intention to move away from scrutinising school admissions, this should continue;

·           It was agreed that the group would be reformed out of the existing School Admissions Forum and would meet according to need; for example, Sal Thirlway stated that “where there are peaks of activity, we will need to work more frequently”; he added that there may be a need to co-opt specialist expertise, and there would need to be flexibility;

·           Sal Thirlway stated that he was prepared to draft the Terms of Reference and arrangements for the governance of the task and finish group.  It was agreed by the members present that the Terms of Reference would be likely to determine the nature of future membership  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Dates of Future Meetings

To note the dates of the planned future meetings:


11 November 2020

27 January 2021





It was agreed that the first meeting of the School Admissions Working Group would be 4 March 2020.