Hampshire County Council
Schools Forum Item 5
13 July 2010
School Admissions Code – Resourcing issues
Report of the Director of Children’s Services
Contact: Ann Begley 01962 846518 email@example.com; Martin Goff, 01962
1.1 Additional resources were agreed by Schools Forum in 2009/10 to meet the
anticipated workload on the Admissions team arising from changes to the School
Admissions Code.. This report sets out reasons why the workload has increased
beyond original expectations and, therefore, results in the need for additional
1.2 Schools Forum is requested to consider approval of additional funds to employ
three additional staff to cope with these pressures. However, in the light of the
proposed implementation of new software that should reduce total processing
time, this request is for one year only.
2.1 In 2009 a new version of the School Admissions Code (SAC) placed a number of
new requirements on the County Council, including:
co-ordination of all in-year admissions
full co-ordination of primary admissions
a particular timetable for the primary and secondary admissions processes in the
main admissions round which means that appeals for both phases will coincide;
first effective for admissions in 2011
running of waiting lists for all schools in conjunction with schools
an annual Local Authority report written primarily by the admissions function
a statutory Fair Access protocol with prescribed content
a greater policing role for the LA and for Hampshire’s Admission Forum.
2.2 The admissions team, following agreement by Schools Forum to carry out a pilot
of in-year admissions in academic year 2009/10 (see:
http://www3.hants.gov.uk/item4csf111208-2.doc) has found the workload very
difficult to manage. In particular, during peaks of work in the main admissions
round it has proved a major challenge to process in-year admissions in a timely
fashion. Also the increased workload has meant that leave and/or sickness leaves
the team stretched and unable to support families and schools.
2.3 In the previous report to Schools Forum it was acknowledged that many of the
new requirements do create a duplication of functions (in schools and in the
central admissions team). That is proving to be the experience in most
2.4 The average number of in-year admissions has been broadly in line with that
predicted (approximately 150 per week) with some major peaks that significantly
exceed the average figure. Processing applications for secondary schools has been
especially time consuming. However, further legislative change has required a
significant increase in the team’s work to properly publish legally compliant
admission arrangements for parents. Also greater scrutiny of admissions from the
Office of the Schools’ Adjudicator and new powers for parents has increased the
burden of the consultation on annual admission arrangements
2.5 The pilot has had some success and the extra resource provided by Schools’
Forum has proved invaluable. However, at the time the request for resources was
made the full implications of the associated workload was not appreciated. To
better meet the demands of the new statutory processes and provide an adequate
service for families and schools a further bid to Forum is needed to secure the
necessary staffing resources and allow for a reconfiguration of the admissions
team. The new arrangements need to be in place for September 2010 when it is a
statutory requirement for all schools to engage in the in-year co-ordination
process. This paper is to inform Schools Forum’s discussion of the staffing and
3 Experience of Co-ordinating In-Year Admissions
3.1 In the previous report to Schools Forum the Authority predicted approximately
150 in-year applications per week. The most applications in one week is 271. In
all weeks in the term more than 100 applications have been handled. Some
families express more than one preference and some children on the roll of a
school now will have live applications but no new offer is made.
3.2 Generally primary admissions are more straightforward. For secondary
admissions the authority collects some basic information which is used in
deciding if the Local Authority’s Fair Access protocol, which is used when
placing children in certain vulnerable groups, can apply. Of 118 in-year secondary
admissions in Basingstoke and Deane, 51 were children swapping schools. These
prove time-consuming for schools and the authority.
3.3 To date there has been no IT system designed for the purpose of processing in-
year admissions. The software supplier has updated the County Council’s
Children’s Services system. At the time of writing, the project to implement the
new system is being prepared with intended implementation for September.
4 Main Round Co-ordination and new time scales for 2011
4.1 For secondary admissions, nothing has changed. Parents must apply by the end
of October and receive their offer on 1 March. For primary admissions, the
parental deadline is 15 January and no offers can be made until after 31 March.
The appeals timetables will overlap and it will prove difficult to ensure that all
appeals are heard within the statutory timescales. Also there are more children
joining Year R across Hampshire, and certain areas have as many (or indeed
more) children as there are places.
4.2 Whilst the authority hopes schools can know broadly how many children will be
joining in the new school year the new timescale is unhelpful for schools and
parents. Also all 4 year olds must be given the opportunity to start school full
time from the beginning of the school year (unlike the current arrangement
which allows schools to phase in fulltime attendance during the Autumn term).
4.3 Trends show that the number of 4 year olds in some areas of the County are
rising and exceeding the number of available places. This adds to the workload
around the administration of applications.
5.1 In-year appeals and main round appeals dropped slightly in 2009/10. The
number of main round appeals for admission in September 2010 is also a
reduction on previous years but the workload has proved difficult to co-ordinate
alongside other pressures (particularly managing waiting lists and in-year
6 Schools that are Admissions Authorities
6.1 The co-ordinated schemes apply to admissions to Foundation and Aided schools
and the Academy is expected to be part of the scheme. Aided and Foundation
schools must participate in the Fair Access protocol. The authority must include
the admission policies of Foundation and Voluntary Aided Schools on its website
and the schools must follow a strict timetable for consultation.
7 Proposed changes to staffing, configuration and financial summary
7.1 A number of approaches to reconfiguring the admissions team have been
7.2 The proposal is that the admissions team increases its capacity to better handle
applications from parents and to liaise more effectively with schools on in-year
and main round admissions. The vast majority of applications can be handled in
the ‘engine room’ where admissions assistants action applications and appeal
requests. In each area team there are two existing posts, handling this work are
graded at D. The intention is to employ a third admissions assistant for each area.
7.3 This proposal is a one (academic) year approach to handling the high workload.
It is anticipated that there will be a 2010 revision to the Code and the new
Government may make other, so far unheralded, changes.
7.4 The Schools Budget rules require most of these costs to be counted against the
Central Expenditure Limit The forecast cost is £78,000.00, 7/12ths (£46,000)
within the 2010/11 financial year and 5/12ths (£32,000) within 2011/12.
7.5 Assuming that Schools Forum approves these additional funds, a review of this
temporary arrangement will be carried out in the context of any further revisions
to the Code and the implications of the new software (see paragraph 3.3).
Schools Forum will receive a report at its meeting in May 2011.
8.1 Schools Forum is recommended to agree the request for additional funds of
£78,000 as set out in paragraph 7.4 to expand the team in readiness for
September 2010 admissions work.
8.2 Schools Forum is recommended to agree that a review of School Admissions
resources is reported back to Schools Forum at its May 2011 Meeting.