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Gove to publish new admissions code

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Education Secretary Michael Gove is due to publish a new admissions code

Education Secretary Michael Gove is due to publish a new admissions code

Education Secretary Michael Gove is due to publish a new admissions code

Education Secretary Michael Gove is due to publish a new admissions code which is expected to pave the way for popular schools to expand.

Under the proposals, restrictions on the numbers of places at good schools favoured by parents could be lifted, allowing them to take on more youngsters.

The new code may also allow over-subscribed academies and free schools to prioritise pupils from poor backgrounds when it comes to allocating places - a move that could mean youngsters from richer backgrounds are squeezed out.

The measures are part of the Government's plans to slim down the admissions code, amid concerns that it has become too unwieldy. The code, which will go out to consultation, is around 50 pages long, compared to the old code which stretched to around 130 pages.

It is expected to say that good schools, which are over-subscribed, should not be stopped from offering more places. Such a move would place struggling schools under extra financial strain because they receive less money if they have fewer pupils.

It is understood that ministers are concerned that in some cases local authorities are deliberately preventing popular schools from increasing their intake because it puts pressure on weaker schools.

In an interview with the Guardian earlier this week, Mr Gove said: "We hope the new admissions code allows the possibility of increasing planned admissions numbers so good schools can expand, and there will be underperforming schools that have fewer and fewer numbers. That will compel their leadership and the local authority to ask: what's wrong?"

An education White Paper, published last November, said: "In order to promote fair access to high-performing schools, we will also consult on whether we should allow academies and free schools to choose to prioritise children from disadvantaged backgrounds in their over-subscription criteria if they wish."

Academies are semi-independent state schools that receive their funding direct from central Government and have more freedom over areas such as the curriculum and staff pay and conditions. Free schools are schools established by parents, teachers, faith groups and other organisations.

Armed forces children are also likely to be given priority under the reforms, with youngsters admitted to infants' classes, even if it pushes the class over the current 30-pupil limit. Ministers believe the move would prevent cases where servicemen are relocated during a school year and then cannot find a school for their young child because classes are full.

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