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'CHILDREN IN PUBLIC CARE SHOULD HAVE TOP PRIORITY', SAYS SCHOOLS ADJUDICATOR

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Chief schools adjudicator Philip Hunter today announced his ...
Chief schools adjudicator Philip Hunter today announced his

decision to give top priority to children in public care in the

admission arrangements of six Wigan schools.

The Wigan schools admissions forum, a committee of school governors,

churches and the local education authority, concluded that children

in public care are particularly vulnerable and are at a disadvantage

in applying for school places. Many schools give priority for places

to children and families who have lived in certain parishes or have

attended certain churches. Children in public care move homes

frequently as their residential placements change and cannot meet

these conditions. The forum urged schools in the area to give

children in care top priority. Six schools in Wigan did not agree to

do so and Wigan LEA, on behalf of the forum, objected to the schools

adjudicator.

Dr Hunter agreed with the forum. He pointed out that the national

Code of Practice on School Admissions, a document approved by

parliament, made clear that schools should give top priority to

children in public care. A school is free to depart from this

guidance but should have a good reason for doing so. Almost all

schools in Wigan, including most church schools, had agreed to follow

the policy and the six schools concerned had not made out a

convincing case why they should not.

NOTES

Schools adjudicators are independent of the government. They decide

on school organisation issues and admission arrangements which cannot

be resolved locally. They were appointed under the School Standards

and Framework Act 1998. Their role is to look afresh at all cases

referred to them, considering each case on its merits and taking

account of the reasons for disagreement at local level in the light

of the legislation and the guidance in the Code of Practice on

Schools Admissions.

Copies of the determination reached by the adjudicator can be

found on the Schools Adjudicator

website.

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