Application and admission considerations

A local authority has the power to direct the admission authority for any maintained school in England to admit a child who is looked after by the local authority, even when the school is full.

Admission authorities understand that they cannot:

  • refuse to admit a looked after child on the basis of challenging behaviour
  • refer a looked after child for action via the Fair Access Protocol on the basis of challenging behaviour

If you seek to arrange a school placement, the corporate parent has responsibility for this process.

The child’s or young person’s social worker will liaise with other local authority staff and the Virtual School Headteacher to ensure a suitable setting is found.

The setting could be:

  • a maintained school
  • an academy
  • an independent school

These schools could be selective, non-selective, boarding or day schools.

In some cases it may be appropriate to place a child in a special school or alternative provision.

Choosing a suitable education placement

When finding a suitable education placement, the following principles should apply:

  • Educational provision should mean a full-time place.
  • Schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ should be prioritised when seeking a place for looked-after children in need of a new school.

Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, looked-after children should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’.

When consideration is given to schools judged ‘Requiring Improvement’

Virtual School Heads and social workers should have evidence that the school is providing high-quality support to its vulnerable pupils and will enable a looked-after child to make maximum progress before placing them in that school.

Birmingham Virtual School support

The application process may be complicated by one of the following reasons:

  • The child/young person’s local schools are judged less than good by Ofsted.
    The Department for Education recommend that children in care should be placed in schools graded good or better
  • The young person is likely to move care placement before the school place is named
  • The carer has expressed a strong view they do not want to apply for local schools
  • The young person has been assessed with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) but does not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
    Advice should be sought from Birmingham City Council’s SEND parent link advisors.
  • Application is being made to a school that has additional admissions criteria such as Faith schools, voluntary aided faith schools, selective admission schools and those requiring entrance exams for a place such as grammar schools.
    For all of these schools there will be dates set by the school for admission applications in advance of the close of the central admissions round deadlines.
  • The young person has specific additional needs (where a child already has an EHCP).
    Birmingham’s SENAR service and other key professionals will work with you through a transition planning meeting for admissions applications 12 months in advance of the required school transition.

If any of the above apply, submit an education placement referral via our contact form.

School Admissions Code

Paragraph 3.29 of the School Admissions Code states;

Where a local authority considers that an Academy will best meet the needs of any child, it can ask the Academy to admit that child but has no power to direct it to do so.

The local authority and the Academy will usually come to an agreement. If the Academy refuses to admit the child, the local authority can ask the Secretary of State to intervene.

The Secretary of State has the power under an Academy’s Funding Agreement to direct the Academy to admit a child. They can seek advice from the Schools Adjudicator in reaching a decision.

Page last updated: 15 May 2024

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