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Scrap the Schools Adjudicator

Seaton Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, laments that £1.3 million of taxpayers money is spent on a body that seeks to frustrate parental choice.

Let's hope that yesterday's publication of the school adjudicator's Annual Report will be the last one ever. The Office of the Schools Adjudicator has only been in existence for about a decade and already it's costing taxpayers around £1.3 million a year.

All the adjudicator  does is to pressure local authorities and schools to meet bureaucratic requirements on admissions. As far as I can see, he does nothing to improve parental choice. Surely, the very existence of the Office is an implicit admission that parental choice is not an official priority?  Why not just give autonomy to schools?

The pro-establishment position of chief adjudicator Dr Ian Craig is clear from his mention of what is obviously a failing local authority without telling readers which it is.  This local authority, apparently, controls 17 secondary schools, 7 of which are National Challenge schools – fewer that 30% of their pupils are achieving 5 or more A*-C grade GCSEs including English and maths.

Dr Craig is supposed to be a public servant: how can it be in the public interest to hide the identity of this local authority?

Despite his report's pretty pictures and bright colours (which make it more difficult to read, not easier) it includes little of interest apart from bland, official jargon.

As expected, the adjudicator gives the green light to the use of lotteries as an acceptable method of deciding which schools children should go to.  A Sunday Telegraph investigation has found that a third of local authorities now have at least one school operating lotteries.  Two authorities, Brighton and Hove and Hertfordshire – to their shame – use lotteries "in a structured way".

As Michael Gove says, this is "in direct conflict with the school choice agenda". How can anyone expect parents to support their teachers and their schools when the system regards them as numbers in a lottery?

Dr Craig also recommends stronger sanctions against parents who give false information, such as temporary addresses, in order to get their child into their preferred school.  People shouldn't lie, but whose
fault is it they may need to?

£1,300,000 a year is a lot of taxpayers' money. Instead of using it to hide political incompetence, wouldn't it be better spent on improving failing schools? And offering all parents decent choices?


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