Holding answer received on 25 May 2018
The Department recognises that looked after children are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. That is why the School Admissions Code requires admission authorities of all schools to prioritise looked after children and previously looked after children in their admissions criteria.
Local authorities (LAs) have the power to direct the admission authority for any maintained school in England to admit a child who it ‘looks after’, even if that school is full. Therefore, the Department does not hold information on individual applications to maintained schools made on behalf of the looked after child. The Department itself can direct a maintained school if required, but so far it has not had to.
For academies, trusts and LAs work together at a local level to prioritise the admission of looked after children. As a last resort, a LA can request a direction for the academy to admit from the Secretary of State, via the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). The ESFA has collected and recorded data on such direction requests since March 2017. Since then, there have been 28 requests. However, the ESFA have successfully worked with LAs and academies to ensure that a formal direction was only required in four cases.