A new report by The Challenge, the iCoCo (Institute of Community Cohesion) Foundation and SchoolDash has “found that thousands of schools across England are segregated along ethnic and socio-economic lines”.
The analysis looked at characteristics of pupils in schools compared to the local community in which they are based.
26% of primary schools and 41% of secondary schools were ‘ethnically segregated’ in 2016; in some areas, there had been an increase in the proportion of ‘segregated’ schools since 2011.
30% of primary schools and 28% of secondary schools were ‘segregated by socio-economic status’ based on the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM); these proportions were higher in 2011, suggesting a reduction in socio-economic segregation overall, though the authors point out that changes to FSM eligibility criteria may have affected this measure.
On the whole schools are more ethnically segregated than neighbourhoods and particularly so in London. EG although about 60 per cent of the South Asian population lived in white majority neighbourhoods, only 35 per cent of South Asian pupils were in white majority primary schools, and 46 per cent in white majority secondary schools.
Some differences were reported around specific types of school: in particular, grammar schools were found to be “starkly divided by socio-economic status”, with 98.2% having a low proportion of FSM eligible pupils compared to neighbouring schools.
The report recommends that schools should consider how representative their intake is of the local community and the impact of this on neighbouring schools. It also recommends that governing boards publish details of their intake, including trends over time, and engage with parents in developing “open and transparent” admissions arrangements.
Governing boards should understand the make-up of the community in which their school is situated.