Council to review school place allocation

An investigation from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has led to Bolton Council checking if any children missed out on their preferred school amid an admissions process complaint.

The investigation found that Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council changed the way it decided schools admissions mid-way through the application process, without consulting people.

The main criterion when determining school places is distance from the chosen school, and, where there is a tie for a single place it is decided by the distance of the alternate school.

The LGO discovered that midway through the round of allocations in December 2014, for school starts in September 2015, the council decided to simply draw lots to determine the places.

Dr Jane Martin, of the LGO, said: “When making changes to policies which affect a wide number of people it is only right and fair that such changes are made with consultation and at the start of the process so that parents have a level playing field when applying for school places.

“I have taken the unusual step of issuing this report where the individual parent has not suffered an injustice, to highlight that other parents in the area may have been affected by the incorrect application of the allocation process.

“I am pleased that Bolton council has accepted my recommendations, and would urge other councils to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes.”

The Ombudsman has confirmed that is satisfied that the arrangements for the 2016-17 allocations have been properly determined.