Make sure you understand the new Fair Access Protocol
“Each local authority must have a Fair Access Protocol, agreed with the majority of schools in its area to ensure that – outside the normal admissions round - unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable, are offered a place at a suitable school as quickly as possible.” p30 School Admission Code December 2014
In June 2019, WCC's Fair Access Protocol was consulted and agreed on and this protocol has been operating since September 2019.
The “FAP and assessment gateway” for primary schools was introduced reflecting a similar model to the Area Behaviour Partnerships behaviour lead meetings (FAP and assessment gateway in secondary phase). This term the FAP and assessment gateways supporting both primary and secondary students have convened twice.
During these meetings, we have identified several points relating to the Fair Access process that we would like to clarify for all headteachers:
A) Exceptional circumstances:
- All schools are in scope when it comes to admission of a child under the Fair Access Protocol unless a school has applied for an exemption using the approved process.
- To apply for an exemption, schools are required to submit an exceptional circumstances form to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of any FAP and assessment gateway panel meeting. If a form has not been submitted in advance of a FAP panel meeting then any requests for exemption made at the meeting will not be accepted.
- The exceptional circumstances form can be downloaded from here (downloads as Word doc).
- A school cannot cite they are above their PAN as an exceptional circumstance (except in the case of infant class sizes).
B) Exemption decisions:
- A decision will be made by WCC on whether to agree to the exemption under the exceptional circumstances submission.
- An exemption may be agreed for up to a period of 12 weeks, in which case the given school will not be in scope for admission, of any child under the Fair Access Protocol, within the granted time period.
- If the exemption is not agreed the school will be in scope for admission of a child under the Fair Access Protocol.
C) Primary FAP and Assessment Gateway
- The dates and deadlines for the primary FAP and assessment gateway meetings can be found here.
- At the FAP and Assessment Gateway meeting on the 16 October, it was agreed that moving forward any school in scope for a FAP child will be emailed by WCC officers in advance, to notify the head teacher that they are in scope and could be allocated a FAP child at the next FAP and assessment gateway meeting.
- At the FAP and assessment gateway, a final decision will be made on which of the schools in scope will admit the child.
- All decisions regarding the admission of any child made at the FAP and assessment gateway meetings are final and the child should be placed on the roll of the identified school within five school days, even if there is to be a phased integration.
- In the spirit of transparency, we will be maintaining a spreadsheet of how many FAP referrals have been admitted into primary schools and this will be shared with primary schools half termly (secondary schools already have access to this information).
- There is no duty to comply with parental preference when allocating places through the Protocol, but it is expected the wishes of the parents will be taken into account (DfE Fair Access Protocol Guidance).
- The Fair Access Protocol does not apply to a looked after child, a previously looked after child or a child with a statement of special educational needs or Education, Health and Care Plan.
Please download the Fair access protocol here for further details.
STS Area Managers should be your first port of call for advice for pupils at risk if exclusion
All referrals into the Assessment Gateway are to be made to Jamie Goodall-Barber at the following email address: JamieGoodall-Barber@warwickshire.gov.uk