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SecEd The ONLY weekly voice for secondary education Inside this issue


Dyslexia and dyspraxia


Appeals warning over new Admissions Codes


by Dorothy Lepkowska


SEN expert Sal McKeown looks at how you can better support students with dyslexia and dyspraxia, especially when it comes to revision and preparing them for exams Pages 8 and 9


Popular and oversubscribed schools could find themselves inundated with appeals from families who have failed to get a place for their children, following the publication of the new Admissions Codes, it has been claimed. The codes, which came into


effect last week and will affect admissions in 2013/14, were intend- ed to be simpler and more straight- forward and to remove some of the complexities of the existing system. They were designed to give


Flipping the class


What is more important? Teaching? Or student learning? Teacher Ben Solly on the success he has found by flipping his classroom Page 13


Consultations


One headteachers outlines the dos and don'ts when it comes to carrying out successful community consultations Page 14


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greater freedoms to successful schools, including enabling them to increase the number of places they offer to children in their area. Academies and free schools


will be able to prioritise places for pupils who come from the poor- est backgrounds, according to the codes, and parents will be able to apply for places directly to schools, rather than going through the local authority. The codes also ban local author-


ities from using controversial lot- teries as the principal method of allocating places, and the consulta- tion stated that parents would have greater rights to complain to the Adjudicator – a clause that has now apparently been modified. Legal experts and campaigners


claim the changes to the codes are a “missed opportunity” because they risk causing major bureaucratic problems for schools themselves. Hayley Roberts, an education


law expert at Browne Jacobson, said: “The code is certainly a little shorter, but ambiguity and com- plexity remain. “What it won’t do is reduce


the number of appeals faced by schools and academies. Many oversubscribed academies will find themselves facing a signifi- cant number of appeals and could


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well be crippled with numerous and time-consuming questions from parents exercising their rights under the code. “This was the opportunity for


the government to reconsider the point and amend the codes accord- ingly, an opportunity they have missed.” Under the proposals, which were


drawn up following a 12-week con- sultation which attracted more than 1,300 responses, the children of staff who have worked in a school for at least two years, or who have been recruited to meet a school’s particular skills shortage, may be given priority for places to help headteachers retain good staff. Adopted children who were pre-


viously looked-after and youngsters who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order will


be given the same priority at looked- after children. This is expected to benefit about 5,000 pupils a year. Nick Gibb, the schools minis-


ter, said in December, at the time the codes were published, that the previous guidance was “too com- plex, confusing and unfair for par- ents. They undermined parental choice and rationed places at good schools”. He added: “The new Admissions


Codes are slimmer, less repetitive and easier to read and use. For these reasons alone they should help to reduce the stress confronting parents as they navigate the schools admissions system and find a place for their child.” The revised codes contain half as


many of the 650 existing mandatory requirements placed on admissions authorities and are significantly


slimmer – 61 pages long compared with the previous 138 pages. Among the clauses was one


aimed at cutting bureaucracy by requiring admission authorities to consult on arrangements only every seven years, rather than every three years. Also, anyone can now object to admissions arrangements where- as previously only a very restricted list of people could do so. The Local Schools Network


(LSN) has also raised objections to the new codes, pointing out that free schools can opt out of the codes because of a clause in their special “model” funding agreement. LSN chief Fiona Millar also said


that a new clause bans objections when governing bodies have decid- ed to increase their planned admis- sions number. Also objections are not allowed in respect of “an agreed


Issue 308 • February 9 2012 Price £1.00 www.sec-ed.com


variation from the code in relation to admission arrangements for an academy”, according to the code. Ms Millar said this allowed


schools potentially to implement “dodgy admissions practices if the secretary of state will permit it”. She added: “How long before interviews, lengthy supplementary forms, primary school records, priority places for certain groups, and even feeder schools in the private sector start to resurface in some schools’ entry criteria?” Meanwhile, Comprehensive


Future, which campaigns for equitable state schooling, said the government had moved the goalposts since the original consultation by making applications to academies exempt from complaint to the Adjudicator in certain circumstances.


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