|Twyford School Forced to Change Admissions Policy|
Barred from giving preference to parents volunteering at Church
Twyford Church of England High School in Acton has been judged to be in breach of the schools fair admissions policy and has been told to revise its arrangements as quickly as possible.
The school is no longer able to give extra points in their admissions criteria to parents who perform voluntary tasks in the local Church such as cleaning up after services.
It follows a complaint about the allocation of places at the highly popular secondary.
The faith school, which has been awarded 'outstanding' by Ofsted, became an academy in 2011 and is significantly oversubscribed with over 600 applications for 190 places in 2013.
The group ' Fair Admissions Campaign' wants all state-funded schools in England and Wales to be open equally to all children, without regard to religion or belief.
It describes Twyford as having 'the most extreme admissions policy the group is aware of' and cites that in addition to requiring weekly worship attendance by parent and child for at least five years, it currently prioritises pupils on the basis of activities such as ‘bell ringing’, ‘flower arranging at church’, ‘assisting with collection/counting money’, ‘tea & coffee Rota’, ‘Church cleaning’, ‘Church maintenance’, ‘Parish Magazine Editor’ and ‘technical support’.
The Ofsted inspection report from May 2012 states that the proportion of pupils known to be eligible for free school meals is broadly average and that the school has a well above average proportion of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds. It also gives priority to children in care regardless of religious background.
Schools adjudicator, Carol Parsons, looked into the allocations policy following the referral in July and determined that the list of additional church activities constitutes requiring financial and practical support for a place of worship (which is not allowed) and must be removed.
In addition, she said the school discriminated against those of no faith, in requiring participation in religious activities for the 30 places each year set aside as for those of ‘World Faiths/No faith’
She says the school has accepted 'that some aspects of its arrangements do not meet the requirements of the Code and it has immediately agreed to amendments.'
Read her ruling in full here (pdf)
The School Admissions Code requires the admission authority to revise its arrangements as quickly as possible.
Twyford's Executive Headteacher Alice Hudson said:
‘The Twyford Trust is committed to offering high quality education within a distinctively Christian context. The significant oversubscription at both the Trust schools is a very positive vindication of what our school communities stand for.
''It is frustrating that we are simply unable to offer places to all of the families who are attracted to the values & standards of Twyford High School and we are pleased that the opening of William Perkin Church of England High School goes a little way to addressing this.
'' We will continue to try and ensure the admissions criteria for Twyford High School align with the school aims and give opportunities to students from as wide a community as possible (for example to accessing its strengths in Music).''
Ealing Council say the revised admission arrangements will be consulted on in the new year and will be published on the council’s web site under 'Have your Say'.
Twyford is one of three schools that have to rewrite their admissions policies. The others are Archbishop Blanch CofE VA School in Liverpool, and the Grey Coat Hospital in Westminster.
19th December 2013