Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

1,500 Schools 'Very Socially Selective'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

1,500 Schools 'Very Socially Selective'

Article excerpt

More than 1,500 primary schools in England have "highly socially selective" intakes, new research has concluded.

Many disadvantaged pupils may be missing out on places at high-performing primaries because of complicated oversubscription criteria that are hard for parents to navigate, according to a Sutton Trust report.

The most socially selective primary schools, which tend to use lengthy admissions criteria, have intakes that are socially very different to the areas that they are situated in, the findings show. One school used as many as 18 different oversubscription criteria - when a typical primary school would use five.

Researchers Rebecca Allen and Meenakshi Parameshwaran, from Education Datalab, measured the difference between the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals in a school's intake and that of its local neighbourhood, to assess social selectivity.

They found that the top 10 per cent "most socially selective" primaries - 1,576 schools serving 310,000 pupils - have a proportion of disadvantaged pupils that is at least 9.2 percentage points lower than that found in the communities they serve.

Dr Allen said: "Our new research shows that there is not equity in access to many primary schools, either because higher-income families are advantaged in their ability to exercise choice or because [schools'] admissions criteria favour certain pupils. …

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