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School Admissions Code to be "simplified" promises fudged Education White Paper

There is lot in the Education White Paper which reads as though the Education Secretary Michael Gove has split the difference between what he wants to do and what his officials want. It will get a bit easier to sack bad teachers but how much difference will it make. How many bad teachers are there out of the 450,000 in our state schools? 15,000 says Chris Woodhead. How many will be sacked due to these reforms. A few dozen? A few hundred? It will still be much easier for a head to turn a blind eye.

What is there in the White Paper about contemplating actually closing failing schools? Diddly squat.

Heads will have a bit more power to exclude disruptive pupils but the appeals process will remain. Perhaps Gove feels this compromise is rather elegant, rather sophisticated. Rather conducive to retaining the goodwill of his officials. But he should have ditched the appeals process. he needs to be more like Eric Pickles and push through the changes that are needed.

Some battles are still to come. For instance I have blogged before about how the School Admissions Code would make anyone thinking of starting a free school burst into tears.

The White Paper says:

All state schools including Academies and Free Schools are bound by the Admissions Code and participate in fair access protocols. We will simplify the Code so that it is easier for schools and parents to understand and act upon, while maintaining fairness as the Code’s guiding principle. We will retain the principles and priorities of the current Code, and Looked After Children and pupils with a statement of Special Education Needs which names a particular school (including Academies and Free Schools) will continue to be guaranteed a place at the school of their first choice. In order to promote fair access to high-performing schools, we will also consult on whether we should allow Academies and Free Schools to 64 The Importance of Teaching choose to prioritise children from disadvantaged backgrounds in their oversubscription criteria if they wish. We will consult on a simplified and less prescriptive Admissions Code early in the New Year so that a revised Code is in place by July 2011.

Schools should be given freedom on admissions. The Code should go. People like the Chief Schools Adjudicator Ian Craig will fight like tigers to keep it as onerous as possible.


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