Ensuring that vulnerable children are allocated a school place (Fair Access Protocol)

Last updated: 23 August 2021

Aims of the Fair Access Protocol

The protocol is designed to:

  • acknowledge the imperative that vulnerable young people, who are not on the roll of any school, must be dealt with quickly and sympathetically in order to minimise the danger of rejection, disaffection and demotivation
  • effectively promote the inclusion of young people within the local school community to ensure an efficient use of resources
  • ensure that all schools and academies, free schools and University Technical Colleges (UTC) take a shared responsibility for the admission of pupils with challenging educational needs with no one school/academy having to take a disproportionate number of pupils
  • provide a rational structure for decision making which is seen as fair, transparent and has the confidence of all schools and academies

Underpinning principles

In order for the protocol to be successful:

  1. All schools, academies, free schools and UTCs must take part and agree to abide by the “collective agreement”
  2. Where the admitting authority is not the LA, the LA will confirm the allocation with the school/academy in advance of the offer being made. This is the case for both In Year allocations and within the Fair Access Protocol. 
  3. The Fair Access Protocol sets out the circumstances within which a pupil can be admitted, and pupils that meet the criteria within the protocol will be admitted in advance of other pupils on the waiting list or awaiting appeal.
  4. Admission decisions under both the In-year process and Fair Access Protocols should be made without undue delay as all admission authorities bound by the Code have a legal duty to admit pupils as soon as possible. The Admissions Code is quite clear that "applications made outside the normal admissions round must be considered without delay......."
  5. Wherever possible, decisions on a placement will take account of a pupil’s expressed religious affiliation.
  6. Where a governing body does not wish to admit a child with challenging behaviour outside the normal admissions round, even though places are available, it must refer the case to the local authority for action under the Fair Access Protocol. This will normally only be appropriate where a school has a particularly high proportion of children with challenging behaviour or previously excluded children. It will not apply to a looked after child or one with a statement of special needs naming the school in question, as these children must be admitted. Children and Young People Included within the Fair Access Protocol This protocol covers strategies for ensuring the admission of 1. Looked-after children (See Section 1) 2. Permanently excluded children (See Section 2) 3. Children who require reintegration into mainstream school, children with no school place and children faced with barriers to education. (See Section 3). This could include children who are currently out of education and require reintegration back to mainstream (for example; - children in the PRU, children who have been absent from school for two months or more; children who have been out of school for medical reasons; children from unsupportive family backgrounds for whom a place has not been sought) Children with no school place (for example:- refugees and asylum seekers; homeless and refuge accommodated children; children who have moved into area after the normal admissions round who have been unable to secure a place through the usual in-year admission process). Children with barriers to education (for example; - children with special educational needs but no statement, children with disabilities, young carers, children who have committed offences, children of traveller and Roma families)