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More complaints about school admissions

Complaints to the schools adjudicator about admissions arrangements rose to 156 in the 12 months, from 127 the previous year. The total number of complaints, 265, has also risen, its annual report adds.

Many of the complaints about admissions related to school catchment areas and priority, or lack of priority, being given to brothers and sisters, the report says. The watchdog adds there are "serious shortcomings" in the arrangements for entry to some sixth forms, which are "often difficult or even impossible to find on schools' websites", incomplete or ask for information not allowed under the admissions code.

The admissions code is a legal guide schools and local authorities have to abide by when they set out their rules for admitting pupils. It covers such things as which groups a school will prioritise if it is over-subscribed.

The chief schools adjudicator, Elizabeth Passmore, said she was calling for all admissions authorities - usually schools or councils - in England "to comply fully with the admissions code on consulting, determining and publishing their arrangements to ensure fair access for all children".

The body's annual report says: "We remain concerned that year after year we see some of the same breaches of the code." The watchdog complained some schools or councils were not giving parents clear information about their admissions arrangements as they should.

Another area of concern, the watchdog said, was that several local councils had mentioned a "small minority" of schools that they felt had "unreasonably" refused to admit a child. It is a council's responsibility to make sure children in its area are receiving an education.

The chief adjudicator also highlighted concern among some councils about a shortage of primary places and a possible future shortage at secondary level. In some cases, "relatively few" extra places were needed, but in others it was "a great many", the report said, adding that the shortages were all across England.


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