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UNFAIR RULES: Selective school’s admissions policy breaks code

 Published on: 2nd December 2021   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

A Garston selective school has been criticised, along with several others in the area, by the Office for the Schools Adjudicator for its admissions policy.

Parmiter’s, along with Watford Grammar, Queens’, Rickmansworth School, and St Clement Danes are all part of the South West Herts Schools Consortium, with their selective status allowing them to select some of their intake for their academic ability.

But they have all been found to have been breaching the School Admissions Code due to policies that infringe on the code’s fourteenth paragraph, which states that a school’s criteria for the allocation of school places should be fair, clear and objective.

In the report, Schools Adjudicator Tom Brooke said: “I do not find it fair to have provisions which set out absolute requirements, for example tenancies of at least two years which some genuine applicants – by which I mean those who really do live in the catchment area and who have no intention of returning to a different address – may be unable to meet.

“I understand that doing so may reduce the administrative burden on schools in seeking further evidence and making a finding of fact as to address based on that evidence.

“However, I find that it is unfair to set such absolute conditions as to what does or does not qualify as a genuine home address.”

The rules set out by the schools have been criticised as discriminating against students, especially those in low-income families who live in houses with shorthold tenancies.

Parmiters specifically has been asked to change its policy in reference to Paragraph 14, with a deadline of the end of February next year.

A spokesperson for the six schools has said: “We recognise and accept the outcome of this matter.

“It is important to note that only a minor part of the original objection, specifically related to the determination of permanent home address, was upheld for each school.

“As a result we are now putting in place detailed arrangements about the establishment of permanent home address to prevent the use of fraudulent address details and genuine local applicants being denied a place.

“We will ensure that our admission arrangements meet the requirements of the determination by 22 February 2022, as required, and will continue to work closely with HCC to prevent the use of fraudulent addresses in the school admission process, including referral to the Shared Anti-Fraud Service where necessary.”

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