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Admissions applications for children in care or those previously in care

The need to apply

Parents and carers for children can apply for admission to any mainstream state-funded school or academy.

If this is at the normal round of admissions, the application must be made to the local authority where the child is living. If admission is in-year then the application must be made according to the local admission arrangements.

For Devon, applications are made via the Admissions Team at Devon County Council for almost all schools. Devon applications can be made online or by downloading the application form or by requesting a hard copy of the form by calling 0345 115 1019.

Good or outstanding schools

Children in care should be placed in schools that are rated as either good or outstanding. Schools that have a rating of ‘requires improvement’ should be avoided unless the Virtual School’s assessment is that there are compelling reasons to attend there and the school has seen appropriate improvement.

Priority for children in care

Applications are required for all children, including those who are in care or have previously held in care status for admissions purposes. If eligible, these children have the highest priority for school admission.

Looked after children are children who are:

  • in the care of a local authority
  • being provided with accommodation by a local authority in the exercise of their social services functions (see the definition in section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) at the time of making an application to a school.

Previously looked after children are children:

  • who were looked after but ceased to be so because they were adopted under the Adoption Act 1976 (section 12 adoption orders) and children who were adopted under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (section 46 adoption orders)
  • who were looked after but ceased to be so because they became subject to a child arrangements order, defined in s.8 of the Children Act 1989, as amended by s.12 of the Children and Families Act 2014
  • who were looked after but ceased to be so because they became subject to a special guardianship order, defined in s.14A of the Children Act 1989 as an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s special guardian (or special guardians)
  • who, it appears to the school’s admission authority, have been adopted from state care outside of England.

Not eligible for admissions priority

There is no additional admissions priority for children who were not in care up to the point when they were adopted.

Similarly, there is no additional admissions priority for children who are subject to a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order where they were not in care in this country up to the point when the order was issued.

There is no additional admissions priority for children who were previously in care where they were returned to their family at the end of the care period without being adopted or one of the orders being issued.

Who can apply

Applications must be made by a person with parental responsibility for the child. For children in care, this will either be a social worker or another person from the local authority who is acting as the corporate parent for the child. In Devon, this will often be the Admissions Lead for Children in Care.

Some children are placed in the care of the Local Authority through a voluntary arrangement made by the parent who retains parental responsibility. The parent should make the application but can request that the application is made by the corporate parent on their behalf.

Devon social workers should discuss education with a Devon area learning advocate for children in care and refer to the admissions team lead for advice and support.

Foster carers must not make applications for admission. They have an important role in the child’s care and can suggest a school but the application must be made by the corporate parent.

Information in the application

Parents and carers of children who were previously in care do not have to mention the adoption or order unless they are requesting that the child is given additional admissions priority.

This may be crucial in securing a place at a particular school as the expectation is that a child who is in care or who is eligible for propriety as a child previously in care will be admitted even where the school would otherwise be full.

This includes a younger child being regarded as a permitted exception to infant class size legislation that otherwise would limit a class in reception, year 1 or year 2 to 30 children with a single teacher.

It is important to avoid delays and to ensure that admissions priority is applied for eligible children, and that evidence of previous in-care status is provided by an applicant – this may be by giving contact details for a social worker or team in a relevant local authority. It may also be by providing evidence of care orders and care periods. Appropriate admissions priority may not be applied without this evidence.

Transport considerations

Children in care have an additional entitlement to free transport provided by the Local Authority. This is to the nearest available Ofsted-rated good or outstanding school where a closer school ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’.