Publication scheme – Office of the Schools Adjudicator

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) requires public authorities to adopt and maintain a system of publication the purpose of which is to:

  • specify the categories of information that we have undertaken to publish
  • say how we will make this information available
  • say whether the information is available free of charge or against payment

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) is a public body. If you need information in another format, we will do our best to help you.

Our publication system follows the Information Commissioner’s model publication model for public authorities.

If you cannot find what you are looking for through this system, you can make a request to us under the Freedom of Information Act. Find out how to make an Access to Information (FOI) request.

About this publishing program

This publication scheme commits the OSA to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. Covered information is included in classes of information, where such information is held by us.

If you wish to reuse or reproduce our publications, for example for commercial purposes or for dissemination for educational purposes, you will in most cases need to apply for an open government license.

Comments and complaints about the program

If you would like to provide feedback – good or bad – about our posting program, or have a specific complaint, please email OSA[email protected]

Categories of information

Who are we and what do we do

School umpires exist under section 25 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (the Act) and have the following statutory duties in relation to schools in England:

  • determine objections and referrals regarding admissions to public schools
  • resolve disputes over school organization proposals
  • make decisions on requests for changes to school admissions
  • adjudicate on appeals by Continuing Schools against the intention of the local authority to order the admission of a particular pupil to a Continuing School
  • resolve disputes regarding the transfer and disposal of land and non-playing field assets
  • produce an annual report for the Secretary of State for Education on our work
  • provide advice to the Secretary of State on request in cases where a local authority has requested that the Secretary of State order the admission of a particular pupil to an academic school

The Chief Adjudicator and School Adjudicators are appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The number of arbitrators in office at any given time varies. There are currently 12 school arbitrators, including the Chief Adjudicator. The names of the Chief Adjudicator and other school adjudicators are published on the OSA About Us.

The school referees are supported in their work by a small secretariat detached from the Ministry of Education (DfE) for this purpose and based in Darlington. The OSA itself has no legal basis, but it is the term we use to refer to adjudicators and their administrative staff. You can reach the OSA by email to OSA[email protected]

What we spend and how we spend it

Details of our annual income and expenditure are published in the OSA Annual Report.

What are our priorities and how are we doing

Details of the number of cases we handle each year along with the type of cases and the results are published in the OSA Annual Report.

Details of complaints relating to the conduct of individual business and the processing of personal data and their outcomes are also published in the annual report, together with the results of freedom of information requests. The work of school referees is not subject to assessments, inspections or reviews, but the decisions of referees can be challenged by judicial review in the High Court.

How we make decisions

The procedures we follow in school admissions cases (which make up the bulk of our work) are sent to everyone involved with our cases and are outlined in the School Admissions Procedures.

The OSA uses a manual and will provide details of relevant sections of the manual upon request. The manual is unpublished because it is a working document subject to continuous review and some sections of the manual contain information that may be exempt from disclosure. The OSA will always consider requests to view sections of the manual and disclose relevant sections of the current version whenever possible. Here are some examples of information that may be withheld:

  • legal advice
  • personal data
  • any internal advice considered confidential
  • information for future publication

Minutes from OSA meetings are available on request subject to any information contained in the minutes which is exempt from disclosure. The OSA maintains active case lists to manage the flow of our work. Copies of case lists will be available upon request.

Requests for information can be sent by email to OSA[email protected]

Our policies and procedures

The following information about our written information handling policies is available online:

The OSAThe data policy of is available on request from OSA[email protected]

Lists and registers

The OSA is not required by law to keep any records or other lists relating to the duties of the Schools Arbitrator.

The services we offer

School arbitrators exercise the functions set out in the OSA About Us. In everything we do, adjudicators and their secretariat strive to provide good service and treat everyone with courtesy and consideration. The OSA seeks to ensure that it is easy for all those entitled to exercise their right to bring cases before school adjudicators for review.

The categories of information published or provided on request will generally not include information:

  • the disclosure of which is prohibited by law
  • exempted under the Freedom of Information Act
  • which is otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure
  • that is no longer readily available because it is contained in files that have been placed in archival storage or is difficult to access for similar reasons

The method by which information published under this scheme will be made available

We provide as much information as possible about GOV.UK and provide links to that information in this posting scheme. In cases where it is not possible to make the information available online, or where there is a request for the information to be made available in another way, it may be made available in documentary form by post or e-mail. -mail.

The information will be provided in the language in which it is kept or in a different language in cases where this is legally required. Obligations under disability and discrimination legislation and other legislation to provide information in other forms and formats will be met when providing information in accordance with this program. The OSA web content and all documents produced by the OSA are compatible with screen-reading software that allows people to access information in a format that is compatible with them if they have a visual or hearing impairment. Screen reader software can also allow users to translate into another language.

Fees that may be charged for information published under this scheme

The objective of this system is to make the maximum amount of information easily accessible with a minimum of inconvenience and cost for the public. The OSA does not charge for the provision of information. All material published and viewed online is available free of charge. This is the main method used by the OSA makes the information available to the public. The information provided on request will be made available in digital form and sent free of charge by e-mail.

Written requests

The information held by the OSA which is not published under this scheme may be requested in writing, where its provision will be considered in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Find out how to make an Access to Information (FOI) request.

Jacob L. Thornton