Seeks to ensure that places are allocated fairly

More schools using banding and random allocation of places


The School Admissions Code exists ‘to ensure that places in all state-funded schools are allocated in a fair and transparent manner.’ The Code is occasionally reviewed and up-dated.

It is the responsibility of the admission authority for each school to ensure that they comply with the Code and related admissions law when setting its admission arrangements. The School Admissions Code is available online at:

The Code sets out the requirements for those admission authorities who decide to use random allocation for allocating places, and those who use banding to select a proportionate spread of children of different abilities.

Any person or body who considers that these particular arrangements are unfair or unlawful can make an objection to the Schools Adjudicator. The Adjudicator’s role is to consider whether these arrangements comply with the Code and admissions law. The Adjudicator’s decisions are binding and enforceable; if found to be unlawful the admission authority must revise their admission arrangements as soon as possible, and no later than 15 April following the Adjudicator’s decision. Further information on the Office of the Schools Adjudicator can be found here:

As Conor Ryan, former adviser to David Blunkett, when he was Education Secretary, now  of the Sutton Trust, has said “School admissions is a minefield at the best of times”. Well informed parents are good at playing the system, and some schools are too.  Most schools, including most academies, still use distance from school and the presence of siblings at the school already as their main criteria in admissions.

However, there is evidence of a small but significant growth in the use of banding and random allocation – or ballots – to achieve a more comprehensive intake. The Sutton Trust ,in a recent report, found that  schools in striving to achieve balanced intakes,  sometimes use banding for the purposes of  admission which,   while no panacea, ‘can contribute to creating more balanced intakes than  would otherwise be the case’.

Banding and Ballots – Secondary school admissions in England: Admissions in 2012/13 and the impact of growth of Academies Research by Philip Noden, Anne West and Audrey Hind ; February 2014-Sutton Trust



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