A proposed minor change to the school admissions criteria in Wolverhampton went before a scrutiny panel last night (Monday 6 February, 2023) following a recent consultation.

All schools must have admission arrangements that clearly set out how children will be admitted, including the criteria that will be applied if there are more applications than places at the school.

The City of Wolverhampton Council carried out a recent consultation into a proposed change to the criteria by including children of staff in the arrangements for Wolverhampton Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, something that has already been adopted by other schools in the city.

The outcome of the consultation was presented to the council's Strong Families, Children, and Young People Scrutiny Panel yesterday evening.

Councillor Chris Burden, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "As the Admission Authority for Wolverhampton Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, we are required to consult on our admission arrangements at least once every 7 years. This time, we took the opportunity to ask people whether we should expand the criteria to include the children of staff.

"We had a good response to the consultation, with comments back from close to 300 headteachers, parents and other stakeholders. The majority of respondents agreed that we should include children of staff within the admissions criteria, and a proposal to amend the criteria to reflect this will go before the council's Cabinet later this month."

Children with an Education Health and Care Plan are given overall priority to attend their named school while, at present, remaining places are allocated in descending order of the following: Children and Young People in Care; Children attending the corresponding Infant School (for Infant to Junior transfers only); Medical/social circumstances; Whether siblings attend the school; Religious reasons for attending a voluntary controlled school; And how close the child lives to the school. 

Meanwhile, the Strong Families, Children, and Young People Scrutiny Panel also discussed developments to the council's Schools Appeals Process. 

An Independent Appeal Panel meets to hear appeals from parents and guardians against the refusal of a school place at one of their preferred schools. The panel decides whether the appeal is successful or not, following the Government's school admission appeals code.

A review of the council's School Appeals Unit has recently been completed and a number of developments are being taken forward. These include creating 2 additional posts within the unit to improve resilience and add extra capacity during peak appeal periods, delivering refresher training to appeal panel clerks and members and increasing the number of appeal panel members through a recruitment drive.

Councillor Burden added: "The schools appeals process is essential in helping to ensure that all school places for maintained schools and academies are allocated and offered in an open and fair way, and we are pleased to be strengthening our School Appeals Unit so that it is in the best possible position to oversee this important function.”