The School Admissions Code dictates that every local authority must have a Fair Access Protocol. This protocol is agreed by the majority of schools in the area and is there to make sure that, outside the normal admissions round, unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable, are offered a place at a suitable school as quickly as possible and that the appropriate provision is put in place to make sure the needs of the children are met.
Together with ensuring the secure placement of these children, the protocol makes sure that no school is asked to take a disproportionate number of children who fall under the Fair Access criteria. This is an important factor to consider as to overstretch a school and its resources would be detrimental to both the child being placed and the children currently at the school.
Fair Access criteria
The criteria for Fair Access is split between two key areas of circumstance:
- Challenging behaviour
- Children who have difficulty securing a school place / unplaced children
A child with challenging behaviour is identified as such in the following circumstances only:
- A child subject to a managed move
- A child previously permanently excluded from school
- A child currently attending a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in another local authority area
- A child from the Criminal Justice System or attending a PRU who needs to be reintegrated back into mainstream education
- A child identified as being at significant risk of permanent exclusion
- A child who is Elective Home Educated (EHE) - this is only appropriate where there is evidence that the child meets any of the criteria above.
In addition, applications in respect of children meeting the following criteria may be referred to the Fair Access Panel for consideration and recommendation on suitable placement under this category:
- Children known to the police or other agencies
- Children without a school place and with a history of serious attendance problems, resulting in previous annual attendance of below 70% and / or where legal action has been taken in relation to non-school attendance, and a school is needed to be named for the School Attendance Order (SAO)
- Children of UK service personnel and other Crown Servants
Also included in the Fair Access challenging behaviour category are School Attendance Order (SAO) admissions. An SAO is issued when the authority is not satisfied that education is being provided otherwise than at school and where the authority considers it expedient that the child should attend school. SAO admissions will be referred to the Fair Access Panel to recommend the appropriate school to be named, in the resulting SAO to be issued to the child's parent / carer.
Children who have difficulty securing a school place / unplaced children
The definition of 'unplaced children' is those not on a school roll, whose parents have been unable to secure a school place through the normal admissions process and it has not been possible to secure a place at their catchment school / nearest school.
Children who fall under this category include:
- Children who have been out of education for longer than two months
- Children of Gypsies, Roma, Travellers, refugees and asylum seekers
- Children who are homeless
- Children with unsupportive family backgrounds, where a place has not been sought
- Children who are carers
- Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or medical conditions, but do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
- Children whose parents have been unable to find them a place after moving to the area, because of a shortage of places
- Children withdrawn from schools by their family, following fixed term exclusions and unable to find another place
- Children who are Elective Home Educated (EHE) - this is only appropriate where there is evidence that the child meets any of the criteria above.
The Fair Access Protocol is available to view below.
The School Admissions Team will be able to provide you with further support.
School Admissions Team
Cambridgeshire County Council
Telephone: 0345 045 1370