Fair Access Protocol - FAQs

Question 1: What are the key steps when a Co-ordinator receives a Fair Access Referral?

3. Move quickly to get the case discussed at your Panel so that schools can agree who will take the child on roll. You are advised to ensure that you do this at your panel meetings or similar meetings when all schools have been invited to attend.  A decision taken without all schools having the opportunity to contribute will not be enforceable. (The decision to allocate the child to a school can be taken if the school is absent from the panel provided the school has been notified of the meeting.)

4.  Make sure that the selected school is informed of the decision as soon as it is taken.

5.  Make sure the School Admissions Team are informed of the decision as soon as it is taken.

5.  Check with the school and School Admissions Team that the child is on roll within a week of the decision.

6.  If the child is not on roll let School Admissions know and ask to be kept informed of the action School Admissions take to follow up the case.

What's on this Page

Co-ordinators:  What should they do Question 1

Schools:  Do they have to accept a decision by the Fair Access Panel? Question 2

Schools: Do they have to accept In Year admissions? Question 5

Schools: Do they have to accept Permanently Excluded Pupils? Question 3

SEIPS: Which SEIP is responsible for Fair Access - arguments over jurisdiction?

SEIPS: Moving on roll school once a child is Programme Managed. Question 6

1. When you receive a referral from School Admissions, check that the child really meets the Fair Access Criteria.  Look at page three of the document.  Look at the Flow Charts at the end. If in doubt contact AS.

2. If "Yes" the Co-ordinator is responsible for the child until he or she is on roll at a school. Make certain that the school has put the child on roll before ending your focus on the case. 

Question 2: Do schools  have to take a student on to their roll if the Partnership asks them to?

The Leicestershire Fair Access Protocol for Secondary Schools has been locally agreed and reviewed regularly in line with DFE Regulations.  The FAP gives the power over fair Access Admissions to each local Partnership. Schools collectively, working through their local partnership group meetings can therefore decide which local school should admit a Fair Access child. Partnerships aim to ensure that schools all take their fair share of the extra admissions arising from Fair Access.

Question 3:  Are Permanently excluded children entitled to be admitted to a school under the rules of Fair Access?

The short answer is "Yes".  Children who live in the locality of a Partnership, do not have a school place and meet the criteria set out in the Fair Access Protocol are entitled to a school place and should be placed on a roll swiftly.  A school who receives a FAP student with a background that includes recent exclusions will make a referral to the local partnership for partnership support up to and including "Programme Management".  This means that a school may have to take the child on roll but the responsibility for providing education will be with the Partnership.

Question 4: Which SEIP is responsible for managing a child’s Fair Access decision?  How do we manage Fair Access when an out of area school is considered a sensible choice?

If a child is currently on roll in a Leicestershire Secondary School and meets the FAP criteria the Fair Access Request will be dealt with by the current school’s local SEIP

If the child does not have a school place in a Leicestershire school (ie has moved from another LA or a private sector school) the child’s address will determine which SEIP will manage the Fair Access process. (FAP Section 8) (There is guidance in Section 14 of FAP for children seeking a place in a school after a period of EHE)

On a few occasions the responsible Partnership may judge that the child’s best interests are served through a placement at a school outside of the local partnership.  Because another Partnership will need to initiate the process amongst its member schools the reasons for the responsible SEIP’s decision need to be documented and need to be compelling. (A conversation between Chairs will help expedite these inter Partnership referrals) Examples might include:

  • Issues related to the length of journey to the school – for example where access to school transport is not available.

  • Evidence of a network of potential damaging relationships that the child may be exposed to if admitted to the Partnership’s schools

Fair Access Panel are advised to consider any preferences expressed by  parents and child. There is however “no duty to comply with the wishes of parents” when operating the FAP (FAP Section 5.4).

Question 5: What powers do schools have in relation to in year admissions and Fair Access?

Schools should admit children who apply for a place out of the normal admissions round unless the appropriate year group is full.  However schools are strongly advised to check with the child’s previous school:

  • If the previous school is local in Leicestershire and the child is in KS4 Leicestershire Heads have agreed that both schools will work to discourage the move as disruptive to the child’s education (FAP Appendix 2)

  • Identify those requests made “in the heat of the moment” that can be reconsidered

  • Check with the previous school if the child meets any of the criteria in Section 3 of the Fair Access protocol.  If the school think the child does meet one or more of these criteria it should talk to the LCC Admissions team as soon as possible.  This may result in the admission being treated as Fair Access to be managed by the local partnerships (SEIP). A school can request that an admission becomes Fair Access for any in year admission (FAP Section 4.2) but the child must meet the criteria.

There are two important considerations for schools when seeking to admit via Fair Access

  • The school, Admissions and the local SEIP need to move quickly in order to abide by the regulatory time frame (Timings are set out in Section 7 of the FAP)

  • The school should ask itself “Will my local Fair Access Panel be likely to direct this school to take the child?” If yes would it make more sense to admit the child quickly and ask the panel to note your decision to keep in mind for future FA decisions?

Question 6: Fair Access and children and young people who are already programme managed by a Partnership – how should Partnerships respond to parents’ seeking a move of school mid year?

If a child is already in the care of a Partnership for programme management he or she clearly meets the criteria for consideration for Fair Access.

  • Leicestershire’s Heads have agreed to avoid movement in Key Stage Four

  • A Partnership programme managing a child will invest time and energy into building a relationship with the child to sustain engagement in the programme.  Disruption of that relationship and the placement arrangements for the child are unlikely to be of benefit to the child.

  • A move of school place for a programme managed child will inevitably weaken the involvement of the child’s on roll school in the monitoring of the child’s programme as well as adding to confusion about funding streams and accountability measures

As a result there needs to be a compelling reason, related to the child’s best interests, for the child’s change of roll and change of partnership. Discussions between all the Partnerships and schools involved is essential prior to any decision being made.

The power of schools to direct children to be educated off site to improve their behaviour, and the regulations that allow Fair Access Panels to select a school place other than that requested by a parent give Partnerships a strong argument to resist parents’ requests of this kind.