Report of the Head of Education and Learning (CS/21/03) which asks the Cabinet to note that the admission arrangements were proposed and consulted on for the Local Authority and to approve the recommendations outlined in Section 2 of the Report, attached.
The proposed amendments to each policy are outlined in the Appendices to the Report, but the full policies can be viewed from the link in the Report (http://devon.cc/lapolicies), with changes annotated in red.
(Councillors Biederman, Connett, Dewhirst and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Education and Learning (CS/21/03) which asked the Cabinet to approve the recommendations outlined in Section 2 of the Report. The Report had been circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Local Authority had a statutory responsibility to propose, consult on and determine admission arrangements for Community and Voluntary Controlled (VC) schools and co-ordinated admission schemes for the normal round of admissions to all state-funded schools. Consultation in Devon had been held ahead of the statutory deadline for annual determination by Cabinet. Schools that were their own admissions authority (Foundation, Voluntary Aided, Academies and Free schools, University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools) were responsible for their own arrangements and determined by the governing boards and academy trusts.
The Report outlined the process, scope and outcome of the consultation on primary and secondary school admission arrangements for 2022-23 and the co-ordination of primary and secondary school admissions and sought approval of the schemes. Admission to special schools and fee-paying independent schools fell outside the of scope the arrangements.
It was noted that the number of responses received to the consultation remained low and the School Admissions Codes left limited scope for a wide variety of lawful arrangements. Arrangements had been consistent for a number of years and feedback from schools suggested they were largely content with matters such as oversubscription criteria, Published Admission Numbers (PAN), catchment areas and the application process.
Devon was required under the School Admissions Code to co-ordinate all normal round admissions to state-funded schools.
The Report recommended the Education Transport Policies for 2022-23 and Relevant Area for school admissions for Devon for 2023-24 and 2024-25 and an amendment to previously determined policies with regard to applications from overseas.
The proposed amendments to each policy were outlined in the Appendices to the Report, but the full policies could be viewed from the link in the Report (http://devon.cc/lapolicies), with changes annotated in red.
· Appendix One – Proposed Published Admission Numbers for Community and Voluntary Controlled schools. This could also be found in the individual admissions policy document for each school at http://devon.cc/schoolpolicy;
· Appendix 2 - the proposed catchment areas for community and VC schools included two amendments (a) the northern section of the catchment area for Bishopsteignton School and the eastern side of the catchment area for Chudleigh Church of England Primary School and (b) the eastern boundary of the catchment for Modbury Primary School, to the south of Boarshill.
· Appendix 3 - the statutory deadlines and timetable for primary and secondary co-ordination schemes.
· Appendix 4 – the recommended amendments to the Co-ordinated Admissions Schemes including the 2022-23 Normal Round Admissions Scheme, 2021-22 In-Year Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme and 2022-23 In-Year Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme. All policy documents could be viewed at http://devon.cc/lapolicies;
· Appendix 5 - the recommended amendments to the Education Transport Policy, including the 2022-23 Education Transport Policy and 2022-23 Post-16 Education Transport Policy. All policy documents could be viewed at http://devon.cc/lapolicies
The Cabinet noted that the Council’s Fair Access Protocol provided for vulnerable children who otherwise would be out of school. It was continually reviewed, but work was ongoing with head teachers and governing boards to review the Protocol. Significant changes to Fair Access requirements had been proposed by Government in a national consultation and the final version of the Code would inform Devon’s revision and Cabinet would be asked to consider a revised version at the end of the process.
In conclusion, the Council had a broad role in school admissions, the overall aim being to provide a comprehensive support service for its own admission authority schools and academies and minimise instances where admission authorities introduced unlawful and unfair arrangements, so parents had confidence that the admissions process was fair, transparent and consistent, regardless of the school’s designation.
The Cabinet noted that equality of access to education opportunities was a fundamental feature of school admission arrangements and the education transport policies. All policies for consideration had been subject to an Equality Impact Needs Assessment, at www.devon.gov.uk/admissionarrangements.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor McInnes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that the Published Admission Numbers for community and VC schools for 2022-23 (Appendix One) be approved;
(b) that the catchment areas for community and VC schools for 2022-23 set (Appendix Two) also be approved;
(c) that approval also be given to the admissions timetable for the next year (Appendix Three);
(d) that the normal round co-ordinated admissions scheme for 2022-23 and the in-year co-ordinated admissions scheme for 2021-22 and for 2022-23 (both at Appendix Four) be determined;
(e) that the Education Transport Policies for 2022-23 summarised in section 6 (Appendix Five) be approved;
(f) that the Relevant Area for Admissions for 2023-24 and 2024-25 (section seven) be approved; and
(g) that the amendments to the Normal Round Co-Ordinated Admissions Scheme for 2021-22 and the In-Year Co-Ordinated Admissions Scheme for 2020-21 and 2021-22 and individual school policies for 2020-21 and 2021-22 with regard to the management of applications received from another country as summarised at sections 4.8-4.9 of the Report, also be agreed.
(NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available at www.devon.gov.uk/admissionarrangements