logo-education
0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

COVID-19 – Department for Education (DfE) guidance on admissions to selective schools

3 August 2020

Please note: the information contained in this legal update is correct as of the original date of publication.

The Department for Education (DfE) has recently published updated guidance for schools that have admission arrangements that admit pupils by implementing selective arrangements. The guidance will apply to admission authorities responsible for grammar schools, partially-selective schools, schools that select by aptitude or schools which operate banding.

Guidance overview

The guidance sets out that the usual practice of holding selection tests during the early part of the autumn term (September onwards) in the year before entry may well disadvantage children this year, in the absence of formal education since March 2020. The DfE is concerned that this disadvantage will be more keenly felt in disadvantaged groups of children. As such, the DfE suggests that testing procedures are moved to later in the autumn term, and that the practical arrangements for those tests is reviewed to ensure that it complies with other guidance for schools on minimising the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Given the requirements of the School Admissions Code 2014 on admission authorities to set out testing arrangements within the admission arrangements for the school, it will be necessary to review those arrangements, and consider whether an application needs to be made to vary the admission arrangements to allow compliance with the wider COVID-19 guidance on schools. In addition, it will be important to communicate any changes clearly to parents whose children may be looking for a place at the school.

Recommendations

We would suggest the following steps would be appropriate for admission authorities to consider:

  • Review existing arrangements, including guidance for parents, regarding the testing arrangements and update this in line with the new DfE guidance on selection tests and the wider DfE guidance on opening schools.
  • Review the admission arrangements for the school. Where the testing arrangements, including the dates of testing and back-up arrangements for further testing due to illness, are set out in detail within the admission arrangements, these should be updated to reflect the proposed new arrangements for this autumn term.
  • Notify the statutory consultees of the proposed variations to the admission arrangements. The statutory consultees will be the organisations set out in paragraph 1.44 ― other admission authorities in the relevant area, whichever of the local authority or governing board is not the admission authority of the school, the religious body where the school is a faith school, and the governing boards of community and voluntary controlled schools in the relevant area.
  • Make an application for variation under paragraph 3.6 School Admissions Code 2014, due to a major change in circumstances (the impact of COVID-19). The application will be made to the ESFA for academies and the Schools Adjudicator for maintained schools.
  • The application must be made as soon as possible so that a decision can be made, in order for the updated arrangements to be published on the school’s website and provided to the local authority for publication in the composite prospectus.

In reviewing the arrangements, the DfE suggests that the wider COVID-19 guidance will set a useful starting point for ensuring the arrangements are safe. In addition, the guidance suggests that:

  • The timing of the testing must consider the wider timescales for admission decisions to be taken in accordance with the co-ordinated scheme and for offers to be made by National Offer Day in 2021.
  • The security and integrity of the test papers must be considered where, due to the COVID-19 restrictions on numbers, the testing takes place over a number of sessions or across a number of days.
  • Any revised arrangements may need to be as flexible as possible in terms of ‘mop up’ sessions for children who were unable to sit the test on the dates offered. The guidance suggests consideration must be given to testing at home, if this is seen as necessary (for instance, as a reasonable adjustment for a disabled applicant).

Browne Jacobson’s Education team is available to provide advice and support to admission authorities wishing to take steps to review and/or vary their admission arrangements. Please get in touch with your usual contact or contact the team via email: education@brownejacobson.com.

Coronavirus support

We are helping across business, health, education and government sectors:

training and events

12Mar

ASCL Annual Conference Online

Come and meet the team at ASCL’s annual conference.

View event

24Mar

Optimus MAT Summit Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, The NEC Birmingham, Pendigo Way, Birmingham, B40 1PP

Come and meet the team at Optimus’ annual conference.

View event

focus on...

Legal updates

World Mental Health Day - 10 October 2020

With World Mental Health Day coming up tomorrow, and with the backdrop of COVID-19 dominating most of our thoughts and everyday lives, now is a great opportunity to start thinking about going the extra mile to support the wellbeing of your staff and pupils.

View

Effective Board and Members meetings; Covid-19 and beyond

View our on-demand video where Education Partners Nick MacKenzie and Dominic Swift discuss the approach to members and board meetings in the ‘new normal’ considering the benefits of virtual meetings and discuss how in the longer-term, boards might combine virtual and in-person meetings to be more effective.

View

Guides

Executive pay setting in school trusts

For many years now the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) have written to academy Chairs asking for justification and rationale on executive pay. School trusts have reached out to us for advice to help them meet their obligations within the Academies Financial Handbook.

View

150th Anniversary of State Education – Lessons Learned: reflections of 12 former Secretaries of State

Our on-demand video was hosted by the BBC’s Education Correspondent Branwen Jefferys with special guests including Baroness Nicky Morgan, Kenneth Clarke QC, Michael Gove, Justine Greening and Lord David Blunkett discussing past successes of education, the unintended consequences of past policy, and to envision what still remains to be done.

View

The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up