An Ealing School will have to amend its admission policy after a ruling by an independent schools adjudicator.
Ealing Council, the local education authority, took Drayton Manor High School, in Greenford, to the adjudicator after a dispute over the school's admission criteria.
The Office of the Schools Adjudicator Andrew Baxter, who considered the case, has backed the town hall after it complained the admission policy was biased against children living on the Copley Close Estate, in Hanwell.
Ealing Council had objected to one of the school's over-subscription criteria, which had the effect of denying places to children living relatively close to the school because there is another school in the area, even if parents are not seeking places at that school.
The adjudicator has concluded that the criterion is unfair to families living in the area affected by this criterion, and that it is inconsistent with the Government's School Admissions Code which is designed to help schools and local authorities to develop fair arrangements.
The adjudicator has said: "This case has been robustly argued by the Council and the School. Normally positive and productive professional relationships between them have been strained. It important to note that the Council has expressed admiration for the work of the school, for its inclusive approach and effectiveness. The disagreement arises from genuine but conflicting interpretations of the Code."
* This decision has been published at relatively late stage, as parents are due to make decisions about their preferred schools in the course of the next week. The adjudicator has established that there is time to notify parents of this change and to implement it for the 2009-10 academic year, and that the Council has arrangements in hand to do this.