The Sutton Trust has undertaken a study on the social composition of the top performing comprehensive schools in England. This report considers whether significant changes to education policy over the last few years have impacted social selection in comprehensive schools, including free schools and academies. It found that the highest performing comprehensives remain “highly socially selective”.
The findings and recommendations will be of particular relevance to those governing boards which are their own admission authorities. The key recommendations include: introducing random allocation or banding, rather than geographical proximity, will help to ensure that a diverse range of pupils can access the most academically successful comprehensives.
Banding – where pupils are tested and places allocated equally by ability - is most effective when a co-operative agreement can be reached between schools in an area i.e. through a local admissions forum.
Working with community groups and other agencies to provide information that makes it easier for parents to make an informed decision about their child’s education.
Faith schools needing to reconsider their approach to the admission of disadvantaged pupils so that they better reflect local populations yet maintain the school’s ethos.
By now, all admission authorities must have determined their admission arrangements for 2018/19, but the determination cycle for 2019/20 will begin in the autumn term. The recommendations outlined by the Sutton Trust may be useful to help inform that determination process in order to reduce social selection.