Austin Macauley 04 March 2016

Review of school places ordered after council alters admissions process

Bolton Council is to check whether any children missed out on their preferred school after an investigation found the authority had changed admissions criteria without informing parents.

The Local Government Ombudsman findings came after looking into a complaint by a mother who had unsuccessfully appealed about her son’s school place.

Dr Jane Martin said the council had altered the way places were allocated half way through the process, opting to draw lots instead of using its stated criteria of distance from school and family ties.

However, the investigation found the boy in question would not have been allocated a place at his first choice school ‘even if proper process had been followed’.

Dr Martin said: ‘When making changes to policies which affect a wide number of people it is only right and fair that such changes are made with consultation and at the start of the process so that parents have a level playing field when applying for school places.?

‘I have taken the unusual step of issuing this report where the individual parent has not suffered an injustice, to highlight that other parents in the area may have been affected by the incorrect application of the allocation process. ?

‘I am pleased that Bolton council has accepted my recommendations, and would urge other councils to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes.’

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