Response to Labour Party consultation on the Middle Tier

  • Local authorities should be supported as the middle tier in between schools and national Government. They have democratic legitimacy and local accessibility. A future Labour government should ensure that all local authorities reach the level of the best, including fulfilling their responsibility in ensuring fair school admissions.
  • Local authorities have a crucial role to play in ensuring fair admissions. They are ideally placed to support parents and children locally.
  • The introduction of the local authority coordinating role in admissions by the previous Labour government led to great improvements in school admissions. Before this change parents had to apply to schools individually.
  • The creation of more own admission authority schools able to set their own admission criteria is likely to result in a return to the confusion and unfairness of the past.
  • If elected a future Labour Government should strengthen the role of local authorities by giving them a new statutory duty to manage school admissions in all local schools by making the decision about whether applicants meet the admissions criteria, taking this burden off schools.
  • The creation of a parallel school system outside the (already fragmented) maintained school sector has led to confusion and unfairness in admissions eg only academies are able to prioritise applicants eligible for free school meals and the Secretary of State is able to allow academies not to comply with the School Admissions Code.
  • There should be the same legal status for all schools.
  • Comprehensive Future surveyed the views of Chairs of Admission Forums in 2011 http://www.comprehensivefuture.local/press/PR29March2011.pdf We found strong support for such a local forum.
  • The removal of the statutory duty to have admission forums has meant that a valuable means of involving local stakeholders in considering the fairness of local admissions has been lost.
  • It may be that there could be some streamlining of local forums involving local stakeholders in education but the duty to provide a local forum to consider school admissions should be reinstated and supported. Admission Forums should agree the admission criteria for all local schools.