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Rules governing directions

Children in care 

Power

In relation to a child in their care, a local authority may direct the child's admission into the school of another admission authority, provided the child was not permanently excluded from the school. 

Legal Authority: Section 97A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSAFA 1998).

NB: If their circumstances comply with the Education (Infant Class Size) (England) Regulations 1998, a child in care can be admitted to an infant class, above the class size limit. 

Procedure

Before deciding to give a direction, the local authority must: 

  • consult with admission authority of the school that it is proposing to specify; and
  • consider representations from the admission authority, supplied within seven (7) days of consultation, including whether the school is willing to admit the child without being directed. 

If the local authority wishes to proceed with the direction, it must: 

  • give written notice of its intention on the school's:
    • admission authority;
    • Local Education Authority, if it is not also the school's admission authority;
    • headteacher; and
    • governing body, if it is a community or voluntary controlled school. 
  • wait seven (7) days from day on which the written notice was served, to enable any of the above to refer the matter to the Schools Adjudicator; and 
  • only issue the direction to those listed above:
    • at the end of that period; or
    • once the referral to the Schools Adjudicator has been resolved. 

Legal Authority: Section 97A to 97C of the SSAFA 1998 and Section 25(3A) of the SSAFA 1998. 

Other children 

Power

In relation to any child within their area, a local authority may direct that the child is admitted into the school of another admission authority, where: 

  • the child has been refused admission to the school;
  • the child was not permanently excluded from the school;
  • their admission would not cause class size prejudice;
  • the school is a reasonable distance from the child's home; and
  • the school provides a suitable education. 

Legal Authority: Sections 96 and 86(3) of the SSAFA 1998. 

Procedure

Before deciding to give a direction, the local authority must consult with: 

  • the parent of the child; and
  • the governing body of the school that it is proposing to specify. 

If the local authority wishes to proceed with the direction, it must: 

  • give written notice of its intention on the school's:
    • headteacher; and
    • governing body 

wait fifteen (15) days from the day on which the written notice was served, to enable either of the above to refer the matter to the Schools Adjudicator; and 

  • only issue the direction to those listed above:
    • at the end of that period; or
    • once the referral to the Schools Adjudicator has been resolved. 

Legal Authority: Section 97 of the SSAFA 1998. 

Community and voluntary controlled schools 

Duty

The governing body of a community or voluntary controlled school must implement any decision relating to the admission of pupils to their school, taken by or on behalf of the school's admission authority; this includes a decision to admit in order to comply with parental preference. 

Legal Authority: Sections 86(2) and 88(1)(A) of the SSAFA 1998. 

Complaints

If the governing body of a community or voluntary controlled school is unhappy with the decision of the admission authority, they must still admit the pupil but a complaint about the matter can be referred to the Secretary of State by either the admission authority or the governing body. 

Legal Authority: Sections 495 and 496 of the Education Act 1996.

Academies 

The Secretary of State has the power under an academy’s funding agreement to direct an academy to admit a child and can seek advice from the Adjudicator in reaching a decision.

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