The Jurisdiction of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator
The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) has a supervisory
jurisdiction over maintained school and academy admission arrangements – by
which is meant not just the school’s admissions policy but also all related documents
– although that jurisdiction is limited by the fact that adjudicators can only
consider arrangements that are referred to them by an objection, are referred
to them by the Secretary of State or his associated entities such as the
Education Funding Agency, or otherwise come to their attention.
The adjudicators are somewhat anomalous in that they are
appointed by the Secretary of State
the OSA is part of the Department for Education (DfE) but they are required to
operate independently – which in practice they invariably and undoubtedly do.
They are required
act in accordance with the School Admissions Code (the Code) and admission
authorities – the local authority for community and voluntary controlled
schools and the school itself for foundation, voluntary aided schools and
academies of all descriptions – are required to implement any finding by the
adjudicator. Their decisions are governed by public law principles and thus are
susceptible to judicial review.
All admission arrangements must have over-subscription criteria
to determine, if a school is over-subscribed, in what priority places are to be
offered. The Code is prescriptive in many respects as to the permitted criteria,
but very often in practice adjudicator decisions are made in the light of the
overriding Code requirement