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School Admissions

Page last updated: 30/09/2020


​Children in care are given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. The admission requirements for looked after children are set out in the School Admissions Code. This Code applies to maintained schools an​d academies, including free schools.


Fair Access Protocols do not apply to children in care. They are ‘excepted pupils’ in relation to infant class size regulations. Admission authorities need to be aware of this.



The local authority is the corporate parent for children in care. It does not tolerate drift or delay when they are without an education placement. The placement must be appropriate to their assessed needs. This includes using the powers of direction in a timely way. There should be no delay in issuing a direction as a result of protracted negotiation.



The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between:

  • the child’s social worker
  • their carers
  • if appropriate, birth parents


The Virtual School Head can assist to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child’s needs

A school that is best suited to the child will be arranged by the child's:

  • social worker
  • the Virtual School Head
  • other local authority staff

The following principles should apply:


  • Educational provision should mean a full-time place.
  • Schools judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ should be used for children looked after in need of a new school. Looked after children should not go to an inadequate school. This would only occur if there were exceptional evidence-based reasons.



The Care planning, Placement and Review Regulations​ became statutory on 1st April 2011. Promoting the Education of Looked After Children​ became statutory in February 2018. Young people in Key Stage 4 should not change their education placement unless they have to. This can happen in exceptional circumstances. This situation would need the agreement of the Virtual School Head.



When a young person in Key Stage 4 needs a change of placement this will be a social care decision.

Changes to education placements are disruptive and can prevent our young people achieving. Often GCSE and other qualifications have set coursework. It is not always easily transferable as schools use many different examination boards.

There is a need to improve the care planning to include education in the planning stages and not:

  • after a move
  • when a move has been agreed

This is to prevent our young people from:

  • missing out on education
  • not being able to continue with their chosen qualifications

To meet the requirements when planning a care placement move for any looked after child in Key Stage 4:

  • It is a rule to seek the agreement from the Director of Local Delivery.
  • The Director of Local Delivery will contact the Virtual School Head.
  • A plan will be proposed so there can be discussion and agree the right way forward.



On occasions there will be a need for emergency placement moves. Social workers should contact the Virtual School Head at the earliest opportunity. Plans will be made to meet the young person’s

  • educational needs
  • statutory right to an education.