To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of checks in place to ensure that schools do not discriminate as part of the admissions process accepting students with special educational needs or disabilities; and if he will make a statement.
The statutory School Admissions Code (the Code) sets out that admission authorities must ensure that ‘the practices and the criteria used to decide the allocation of school places are fair, clear and objective’ and that a school’s oversubscription criteria must be ‘reasonable, clear, objective, procedurally fair, and comply with the relevant legislation, including equalities legislation’. The Code further provides that an admission authority cannot discriminate against or disadvantage disabled children or those with special educational needs.
Any parent who has been refused a school place may appeal to an independent appeal panel. If the appeal panel finds that the school’s admission arrangements were unlawful, or incorrectly applied in the case at hand with the result that the child was wrongfully refused admission, the panel can uphold the appeal and the child must be admitted.
Anyone who believes that a school’s admission arrangements do not comply with the Code may make an objection to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator. The decision reached by the schools adjudicator is binding and enforceable by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education.
In addition, where a child with special educational needs has an education and health and care plan, which names a school, that school is required by s43 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to admit the child.