Beechen Cliff or­dered to re­form ad­mis­sion pol­icy

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Amanda Cameron Senior reporter @Aman­das­cameron | 01225 322204 amanda.cameron@reach­plc.com

Beechen Cliff School must change its ad­mis­sions pol­icy af­ter a Govern­ment watch­dog found some of the rules were “un­rea­son­able” and “un­fair”. The Schools Ad­ju­di­ca­tor in­ves­ti­gated the pol­icy used to ad­mit stu­dents to the pop­u­lar com­pre­hen­sive af­ter a Bath coun­cil­lor com­plained it was “dis­crim­i­na­tory”. Coun­cil­lor Joe Ray­ment (Tw­er­ton, Labour) ac­cused Beechen Cliff of pref­er­en­tially ad­mit­ting chil­dren from wealthy fam­i­lies to keep its “ex­clu­sive” rep­u­ta­tion. Schools ad­ju­di­ca­tor Phil Whiff­ing, who clar­i­fies the le­gal po­si­tion on ad­mis­sion poli­cies in schools, did not up­hold Mr Ray­ment’s ob­jec­tion that the school’s ad­mis­sions pol­icy dis­ad­van­taged boys from ar­eas of great­est de­pri­va­tion in the south west of Bath. How­ever, Mr Whiff­ing did find as­pects of the pol­icy to be un­fair and or­dered changes. In his re­port, he states: “It is un­de­ni­able that the school has a less de­prived in­take than the other state­funded schools in the city.” Mr Whiff­ing found: The school’s pol­icy of al­lo­cat­ing an equal num­ber of places to boys liv­ing ei­ther side of the River Avon is “un­rea­son­able and is un­fair” to boys liv­ing south of the river. He noted that more boys live to the south and that the river did not pro­vide a bar­rier for travel to school Giv­ing pri­or­ity to broth­ers of girls who at­tend Hayesfield Girls School is un­fair be­cause it is of lit­tle prac­ti­cal ben­e­fit to those fam­i­lies or ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fit to the chil­dren and it re­duces the num­ber of places avail­able for other boys 14 other ways in which the ad­mis­sions pol­icy does not com­ply with the School Ad­mis­sions Code. Beechen Cliff has been given two months to re­vise its ad­mis­sion ar­range­ments to bring them in line with the code. Nigel Stevens, act­ing chair of gov­er­nors, said: “We note the pub­li­ca­tion of the ad­ju­di­ca­tion re­gard­ing the ad­mis­sions poli­cies and will be re­view­ing in de­tail the find­ings. “Beechen Cliff School will of course en­sure all rec­om­men­da­tions are in­cor­po­rated into our poli­cies.” Mr Ray­ment, who is the deputy leader of the Labour group in Bath and North East Som­er­set, said he be­lieves the rul­ing will give boys from the south west of Bath a much bet­ter chance of getting into the pop­u­lar school. He said: “I re­ferred Beechen Cliff’s ad­mis­sions prac­tices to the schools ad­ju­di­ca­tor be­cause a huge num­ber of dis­ap­pointed par­ents con­tacted me when their sons did not se­cure a place at the school. “Th­ese were par­ents from across the south of Bath, not just Tw­er­ton, and I could not un­der­stand how chil­dren liv­ing in the south of the city could not get a place at their near­est school. “This rul­ing is a step for­ward. How­ever the al­lo­ca­tion of sec­ondary school places in Bath re­mains a huge chal­lenge since the clo­sure of Bath Com­mu­nity Academy. I am work­ing tire­lessly to ad­dress the need for lo­cal chil­dren to be able to have a place at their lo­cal school.”

This year’s in­take of pupils at Beechen Cliff live within the red line; neigh­bour­hoods are colour-coded by level of de­pri­va­tion with dark blue the most de­prived and yel­low the least de­prived, be­low, coun­cil­lor Joe Ray­ment who is pleased with the de­ci­sion made re­gard­ing ad­mis­sions

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