Pupils left without a school place after Warwickshire County Council admissions chaos

Problems with the admissions process for children switching schools have prompted a review within Warwickshire County Council.

Warwickshire County Council is carrying out a review after problems with its school admissions system. Photo: Pixabay.
Warwickshire County Council is carrying out a review after problems with its school admissions system. Photo: Pixabay.

Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe told fellow councillors that she was unhappy with the situation that saw some pupils without a school when the new term started this month, adding that it was down to a new online admissions system being introduced shortly before a number of staff left the department.

Speaking at Tuesday’s children and young people overview and scrutiny committee meeting, Cllr Seccombe said: “The system doesn't work unless you can upload the data. In reality I think the leadership or ownership of this got dropped. It was about getting numbers from the schools.

“They have moved hugely hard to move this forward but some of you will be aware that people couldn't call through to admissions because they weren’t answered because people were uploading the data. It was completed last week.”

The problem dates back to the start of the summer when nearly half of the 25 posts in the department were vacant. This came just months after a new online system was introduced.

She added: “We have a system in place which now works and has offered places to all those who were delayed. The sign of a good council is knowing they have a problem, facing up to it and doing something about it and that has happened.

“There is a legal timeframe of 15 working school days that you need to meet as a council to fulfil the legal requirement of helping people move schools. We are well within that because the time frame does not operate within a holiday period. It isn’t a case that all these children weren’t in school - most of them were .

“I am not happy, that’s probably an understatement, and I have required the chief executive to run an end-to-end eview of how the whole project was operated, informed between schools and what went wrong and how we could have avoided it. I am not happy because this is people’s lives and how they manage their homes, work and uniforms.”

Other councillors said they had been told of delays in their part of the county. Rugby's Cllr Jill Simpson-Vince (Con, Brownsover and Coton Park) explained that one primary school in her ward had encountered issues getting through to the admissions team and Cllr Jo Barker (Con, Shipston) said she was aware of parents opting to send their children to schools in Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire.

Nigel Minns, the council’s strategic director for people, said: “It is very clear that the service standards in regards to answering the phones have not been what we want them to do.”

The problems with the admissions system comes as a number of areas around the county report problems over the number of available school places affecting a range of ages. In towns such as Rugby, rapid population growth has seen families unable to find school places close to their homes, forcing them to drive miles or into neighbouring counties to find a school.