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Teachers' kids go to front of admissions queue

News | Published in TES Newspaper on 27 May, 2011 | By: Stephen Exley

Controversial new ‘family-friendly’ code will give staff advantage at oversubscribed schools

Teachers will be given the right to jump the queue in the battle to secure places at oversubscribed schools, the Government will reveal today.

The draft of the new admissions code, due to be published today, proposes that all schools be allowed to prioritise the children of employees, The TES has learnt.

Schools would even have the discretion to give preference to non-teaching staff such as cleaners and cooks.

The long-awaited new code, which is being trailed as a complete overhaul of the system, is believed to contain other controversial reforms, including allowing popular schools to grow student numbers at the expense of other less-successful schools.

The Department for Education hopes the move to scrap the restrictions, in place since 2007, on allowing admissions officers to prioritise their colleagues’ children will help schools’ recruitment, with the “family- friendly” move designed to make life easier for parent teachers.

But it is understood that leading figures in the teaching unions are concerned that teachers could be perceived to be taking places away from local children and those with difficult family circumstances.

The draft code says: “Given the importance that this Government places on the need to put our trust in schools, we believe this restriction leads to some schools losing out on potentially very valuable members of staff as they seek to balance work and life as a parent.

“Therefore, we propose to allow children of staff at the school to be included as an oversubscription criterion.

“If admission authorities wish to use this permissive criterion, then it would be for them to define what they mean by ‘staff’ and whether it was to cover teaching or non-teaching staff, including those undertaking tasks such as catering and cleaning.”

Research by admissions expert Professor Anne West, from the London School of Economics, revealed that, in 2001, 9 per cent of schools gave priority to their employees’ children.

Since the first admissions code of practice was introduced in 1999, which warned admissions authorities to ensure their policies promoted equal opportunities, 94 objections relating to schools prioritising the children of their staff have been lodged with the Office of the School Adjudicator, of which 83 were fully or partially upheld.

The 2007 code made it explicit that schools must not give priority to the children of staff unless there was a “demonstrable skill shortage”.

The DfE argues the new admissions code will “reduce the burdens and bureaucracy that schools face by removing unnecessary prescription that makes the process complex and costly”.

The code will also ease “bureaucratic” restrictions on successful schools raising their planned admissions numbers, in order to make it easier for them to take on extra pupils.

Education secretary Michael Gove said this would put pressure on underperforming schools to improve.

“We hope the new admissions code allows possibility of increasing planned admissions numbers so good schools can expand, and there will be under- performing schools that have fewer and fewer numbers.

“That will compel their leadership and the local authority to ask: ‘what’s wrong’? I think it’s wrong to have a situation where local authority says ‘this is a good school, it’s full up’, and parents have to go to the less good school down the road,” he said.

Mr Gove also pledged to give the school adjudicator “more teeth” to deal with complaints about admissions. Anyone will be able to make a complaint, rather than just “relevant” people with connections to a particular school, as at present, Mr Gove added.

“Our aim is to allow good schools to expand, but also to have a strong adjudicator who is in a position to investigate and clamp down.

“For me the most important thing is that he has the capacity to say sorry this isn’t compliant with the code. Giving him or her that watchdog function means we’re in a stronger position.”

 

Original headline: Teachers’ children will go to front of admissions queue


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Comment (6)

  • By allowing legislation for teachers to jump the queue in the battle to secure places at oversubscribed schools Gove is trying to deflect anger onto teachers about these changes.

    Gove has also managed to get the headlines dealing with THIS rather than dealing with all the really poor outcomes from his changes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    11:12
    27 May, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Why does the Government refuse to see that this policy will put the most disadvantaged pupils at acute risk. Schools that are perceived as 'poor', based on the only measure most parents have - exam results, will empty in favour of the higher achieving, soon to be overcrowed, schools . There will be then a small number of students whose parents are unable to champion their cause, for whatever reason, who will be left in a sinking ship, or even worse, a school which has become 'financially unviable' and therefore left with no school place. Free schools are not going to pop out of this market driven model for the most disadvantaged, who are often challenging students. What happened to the idea of making every school a good school? Why does this Government think that a competition driven free market approach will drive up standards, especially for the most disadvantaged? Clearly the majority of people who know anything about state education know it will make the current situation a whole lot more unequitable.

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    23:11
    27 May, 2011

    maynardsmith99

  • The other side of the coin is our Treasurer for the free school we are asking the DfE to be allowed to open in September 2012. She has a daughter who she hopes will be allowed to go there. This is not unreasonable, despite the fact that the "allocation of places" will be handed over lock stock and barrel to the County.
    With this announcement, her daughter will be allowed to go to the new school (assuming, that is that we get permission to open it and also assuming that it isn't just another lie by the government).

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9:06
    28 May, 2011

    Mike Stallard

  • The other side of the coin? No, the unacceptable side of the coin.

    Your Treasurer for the free school we are asking the DfE to be allowed to open in September 2012 has just 'bought' her daughter a place in a school with public money queue jumping all other parents. In addition the money to open YOUR free school in September 2012 will be taken from the schools educating the children who have been queue jumped. How unfair is that?

    Put in these terms Gove is helping build-in SELF-INTEREST ahead of public good into his daft free-school idea!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10:54
    28 May, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Exactly right Brooke Bond - this whole policy change is to assist the sharp elbowed "middle class" to open their own schools and put whoever they like in them. Thus creating an elite selective bunch of "chosen one's", but what would you expect from a bunch of old Etonians that have never been on a council estate in their lives.

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    15:57
    29 May, 2011

    wattie54

  • You can also see an end to classes of 30, and a flood of children migrating from one school to another. This is all based on research by the Sutton Trust that gets its funding from ....... yes you have guessed it the tory DfE. They will say whatever they are asked to say to secure their funding. (statistics and damn lies, indeed smaller classes do not make a difference!!!!!!!!)

    Bring back the looney Labour party - at least they had a social

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    16:54
    29 May, 2011

    wattie54

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