HC Deb 24 July 1996 vol 282 cc416-7W
Dr. Strang

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the target period within which a parent should receive a decision, by a local authority, on a requested school placement. [38977]

Mr. Raymond S. Robertson

Section 28 A(l) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, as amended, requires education authorities to respond to requests for a place at school at the start of the school year in August by 30 April of that year if the request was lodged before 15 March in the same year, or within two months of receipt if the request was made after that date. Education authorities must also respond within two months of receipt of placing requests made in-year. Where an education authority fails to respond within the time limit it is deemed to have refused the request.

Dr. Strang

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what statutory duty a local authority has in relation to considering a school placement request by a parent. [38978]

Mr. Robertson

Where the parents of a child make a written request to an eduation authority to place that child in a specified school, section 28A(1) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 places a duty on the education authority to place that child accordingly unless one or more of a number of grounds of exception set out in section 28A(3) applies. Those grounds are as follows:

  1. (a) If placing the child in the specified school would
    1. i. make it necessary for the authority to take an additional teacher into i employment;
    2. ii. give rise to significant expenditure on extending or otherwise altering the accommodation at or facilities provided in connection with the school;
    3. iii. be seriously detrimental to the continuity of the child's education; or
    4. iv. be likely to be seriously detrimental to order and discipline in the school or the educational well-being of the pupils there;
  2. (b) if the education normally provided at the specified school is not suited to the age, ability or aptitude of the child;
  3. (c) if the education authority has already required the child to discontinue his attendance at the specified school;
  4. (d) if, where the specified school is a special school, the child does not have special educational needs requiring the education or facilities normally provided at that school;
  5. (e) if the specified school is a single sex school (within the meaning givne to that expression by section 26 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975) and the child is not of the sex admitted or taken (under that section) to be admitted to the school.

A change in the Education (Scotland) Act 1996 which will come into force shortly introduces a further ground which will enable an education authority to refuse a placing request. That further ground is where the acceptance of a placing request in respect of a child who is resident outwith the catchment area of the school specified in the request would prevent the education authority from retaining reserved places at the school for children moving into the area.

Under the 1980 Act authorities are also obliged to formulate guidelines to be followed in respect of placing in schools generally, or in the event of there being more placing requests than there are places available at a particular school.