Fairer School Admission Procedure Call

Poor children already lagging behind their better-off peers in terms of educational achievement are held back by socially selective school admissions says children's charity Barnardo's.

Children born into disadvantage are already less likely to do well in school and go on to higher education.

While able and articulate parents will go to extraordinary lengths to increase the odds of their child getting in to their chosen secondary school many poorer parents find it impossible to navigate the daunting school admissions system.

The system for determining school admissions is complex and presents a particular challenge for disadvantaged families who are leading chaotic lives. Frequent house moves, a lack of spoken or written English, disability or learning difficulty, and domestic violence, are just some of the circumstances which lead to many parents failing to submit an application for their child at all.

Martin Narey, Barnardo's Chief Executive said: "The school admissions system has become a complex game, one that many parents in poorer households are not aware is going on around them.

"Even when conscious of a race for the best schools, some less confident and able parents are often overcome by a fatalism and are resigned to the fact that their son or daughter will be left with whatever school other parents don’t want."

Unfair admissions practices result in schools with skewed intakes that do not reflect the population of the surrounding area. The top secondary schools in England take on average only five per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals, this is less than half the national average.

Mr Narey continued: "If we are to wipe out the entrenched poverty that erodes the life chances of one in four children in the UK, if we are to re-ignite social mobility, then we must stop educational disadvantage being passed down from one generation to the next.

"Secondary school admissions fail to ensure a level playing field for all children. Instead we are seeing impenetrable clusters of privilege forming around the most popular schools. Allowing such practice to persist – and almost certainly expand as increasing numbers of schools take control of their own admissions - will only sustain the achievement gap in education and undermine the prospects of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

09 November 2005
Public schools found guilty of fee fixing
Fifty of England’s top public schools have broken competition law by exchanging information about fees, the Office of Fair Trading has announced. Following an investigation lasting more than two years, the OFT found that pupils’ parents ended up paying higher fees as a result of the information-sharing.
08 July 2010
'Growing Appetite' For School Lunches
The number of children eating school lunches in England has seen a significant rise, according to national figures released today. The number of pupils eating healthy food at school has seen the biggest year-on-year percentage point increase since the height of the school meals revolution.
05 December 2013
£1bn Towards Free School Meals
£1bn is being unlocked to fund the Department of Education's free school meals commitment. The news, announced by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, follows an announcement in September that every child in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools will receive a free school lunch.
02 October 2008
Free School Meals For Scots Primary School Pupils
All school pupils in primaries one to three in Scotland are to be entitled to free school meals following successful pilot schemes.
17 May 2012
A Third Of Children Leave Primary School Unable To Swim
According to research by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), a third of children in England cannot swim by the time they leave primary school.