The law and processes of school organisation – Wales
This page sets out how schools in Wales open. We also consider schools changing their type of establishment, gaining a religious character, increasing their age range, closing or amalgamating. There is a separate page for England.
In Wales the law on school organisation is wholly different (and much simpler) from in England, and there is a School Organisation Code to supplement this. Only new community, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools can be established. New foundation schools may not be established and Academies and Free Schools have never existed in Wales.
A local authority may make proposals to establish a new community school, and any other person may make proposals to establish a voluntary school. The proposals have to be formally published and widely publicised, and a wide range of groups must be consulted. Objections to the proposals must be made within 28 days, with a summary of objections to be published by the proposer after a further period of time. If the local authority objects to proposals, then the Welsh Ministers must determine whether or not to approve them. If someone else objects to proposals, then the local authority must determine whether or not to approve them. Otherwise, the proposer may determine whether or not to approve them.
Schools can change between being voluntary aided, voluntary controlled or community schools by holding a consultation, or from being a foundation school to being a voluntary aided, voluntary controlled or community school. However, schools with a religious character cannot change to being a community school. In order to do this requires a consultation, which follows the same process as is set out above.
A school cannot gain or lose a religious character, or change religious character. However, often schools do this by closing and re-opening as a brand new school, which involves following the processes set out above.
Schools can amalgamate or close, and generally speaking the Dioceses have a very powerful say in such consultations and can protect their existing schools. Where a school is to close, it is much more likely to be proposed to be a school without a religious character than a faith school. Similarly, where schools are to amalgamate, if one of the two schools is a faith school, the result is essentially certain to be proposed to be a faith school. However, there is still an opportunity for you to advocate that the law does not permit more discrimination than is previously possible.