Headlines: February 26th, 2007

RESEARCH CALLS FOR END TO SCHOOLS’ CONTROL OVER ADMISSIONS

 

A new report is calling for all schools to be part of a local system of admissions to give parents a fairer choice of school places and to help tackle educational segregation. In research published today the Institute for Public Policy Research says schools can develop a strong individual ethos without having control of their own admissions processes.The study also finds that secondary schools that act as their own admissions authorities are less representative of their local areas. It says that faith schools controlling their own admissions are ten times more likely to be highly unrepresentative while non-faith schools are six times more likely to be highly unrepresentative. The report comes as local authorities across England prepare to write to parents this week with offers of secondary school places.

Overall, says the ippr study, secondary schools are twice as segregated by ability than they would be if they took the pupils living nearest to the school. It argues that no school should administer its own admissions process and that within each local education authority there should be an independent admissions administrator. It says, too, that unless the new Admissions Code brings significant reductions in segregation by income and ability schools should lose the power to control admissions with local education authorities taking over the role.

Nick Pearce, ippr Director, said changes to the Admissions Code were designed to stop schools using selection but still allowed them to control their admissions but this was like asking pupils to mark their own essays. “We need a system of fair choice for all parents and pupils. At the moment, schools that control their own admission arrangements are selecting their pupils, and our classrooms are more socially segregated than the local communities outside the school gates,” he said.