Cardiff is looking to become the first local education authority in Wales to trial co-ordinated school admissions, creating a fairer and clearer way for parents to apply to secondary schools.
Currently there are a number of school application processes running alongside one another, for example one for local authority schools, one for each individual faith school and one for foundation schools.
The proposed system would bring all of these different ways of applying together to create a co-ordinated school admissions process.
The launch of a three-year pilot scheme will be discussed by the City of Cardiff Council’s Cabinet on Thursday, March 16th. If given the go-ahead the scheme would run for the Year 7 intakes in September 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry said:
“At the moment the admissions arrangements in Wales often create situations where parents, through no fault of their own, can end up with more than one offer of a school place; for example an offer from a community school and an offer from a faith school.
“The current arrangements are also set-up in a way that means local authorities don’t have a complete picture until after decisions have been sent out, resulting in unnecessary worry and distress for parents who have initially failed to get a place for their child at their preferred school, only for places to become available weeks later when other parents have been successful in gaining a faith or foundation school place and they are able to give up their offer from the local authority.
“Admissions to faith and foundation schools are currently managed by those schools. By creating and managing a co-ordinated school admissions system the local authority will work closely with those schools taking part in the scheme. Each school would continue to be responsible for its own admissions including the assessment of applications. Schools would have access to information relevant to their admissions criteria throughout the process and parents would know exactly where they stood when decisions are sent out.”
The City of Cardiff Council report into the scheme has outlined five key benefits that the scheme could deliver. They are:
- More pupils would secure a higher school preference;
- More pupils would have peace of mind having secured a secondary school place;
- More parents would be able to plan work and childcare commitments much earlier;
- Fewer parents would need to worry about their child being on multiple school waiting lists;
- Fewer families would need to submit further admission applications or undertake the Independent Appeal process.
A public consultation on the pilot scheme has been held with the Church in Wales Diocese, the Catholic Diocese, Whitchurch High School (currently the only foundation school in Wales) and members of the public. In total 149 responses were received.
Following the consultation all of the city’s secondary schools have agreed to join the pilot scheme except for The Bishop of Llandaff CW High School and Mary Immaculate RC High School.
Cllr Merry added:
“The majority view from drop-in sessions and from written correspondence was one of support for the pilot scheme. We believe the pilot – even without Bishop of Llandaff and Mary Immaculate taking part – can deliver clear benefits for pupils and parents. Also, we don’t believe there will be any detrimental impact on the two schools which aren’t taking part and the process for applying to them will remain the same.”
The report going before Cabinet also proposes the admission arrangements which would apply from September for admission to secondary schools in September 2018. There is a statutory requirement for all local authorities to consult annually on these arrangements. The report recommends acceptance of the arrangements as consulted on, but also proposes further research into alternative admission arrangements and the impact of these, in advance of consultation on the City Council’s School Admissions Policy 2019/20.