Staggered admissions – impact of the Rose Review on the admission arrangements for maintained schools
Guidance for schools
In 2010, under the direction of the DCSF, Jim Rose undertook a review of Primary Education in England in which he made a number of recommendations. In February 2010 one of these recommendations was put on the statute book – that children would be entitled to a full time place in school from the September following their fourth birthday. This means that a child who is four years old by the 31st August will be entitled to a full time place in a maintained reception class in the following September. The change in Government in May 2010 resulted in no action on the other recommendations at present.
What does this mean for schools, children and their families?
Schools will be required to offer eligible children in reception classes a full time place from the start of the Autumn Term. Regardless of the admission authority (i.e. LA, School, Diocese) once allocated the place cannot be offered to another child during the academic year. Schooling is not statutory until the term after the child is 5 years old; however the entitlement to a full time place is statutory although families can choose not to take it up.
Families and their children have a number of options:
- They can elect to take up the reception place on a full time basis
- They can elect to take up the reception place on a part time basis (15 hours per week)
- They can defer entry till later in the academic year and retain their 15 hour entitlement in the Private, Voluntary or Independent (PVI) sector
- They can defer entry till later in the academic year and choose not to take up their 15 hour entitlement
Families need to be aware that if they choose to take up a part time place in school they will not receive any funding in the PVI Sector. Full time funding is available in the maintained sector only and provision cannot be shared.
If a family elects to defer entry they must have taken up their place by the Summer term otherwise they will be required to re-apply for admission to Year One.
Once a parent has advised the school that they are taking up their place with them, be it on a full time or part time basis, they can no longer access funded provision in the PVI sector. i.e. they cannot change their mind once the child has started in the school.
Points for schools to consider:
Schools have historically phased admission to reception over a number of weeks. This can obviously support transitions for the children and make joining the school easier. There is no reason why schools cannot continue with this arrangement. For consistency between age groups a maximum period of three weeks is recommended. It may be appropriate in some circumstances for individual children to have a longer phasing-in period depending on any identified needs.
Schools need to be aware that the change in the law means there is an entitlement to a full time place from the beginning of term and some parents, particularly working parents, may need to access this immediately. It is therefore important that each school ensures their policy on how children are admitted into the school is made clear to all families. Where a family would be disadvantaged by any phasing-in arrangements there should be an opportunity for them to discuss this with the school, so that due consideration is given to the family circumstances. Parents are within their rights to expect a full time place from the first day of the September term in the school at which their child has been allocated a place.
In addition to the staggering of the September in-take schools need to consider how a child might access a part time place. It would not be unreasonable to state the days/ times when part time provision can be accessed. This will ensure minimal disruption to the other children and will ensure children have access to the full Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.
Where a parent elects to defer their place the school should make clear to them what notice they need to give regarding subsequent take up of their allocated place and could also offer defined points of entry i.e. the beginning of term or immediately following half term.