A Poor Education

A-Poor-EducationQuestion: The most selective schools use how many criteria to decide on oversubscribed places?

Answer: 18 – These include faith, having a sibling at the school and passing an entrance exam.

In yesterday’s Education Quizzes blog I talked about how there is a gulf between the wealthiest and the poorest children in the UK, at least according to UNICEF.  But they are not the only ones to think so. Yet another report published this week (this time by the education charity, Sutton Trust) has shown that many schools have admission criteria which favour those from ‘higher’ social groups.

The study compared the number of pupils in schools who were entitled to free school meals with the number in their surrounding neighbourhood who would qualify.  The most selective schools were those with the lowest rates. Unsurprisingly, these were for the most part found in urban areas which have the highest proportion of underprivileged children.

So, how do state-funded schools decide which members of their local community can and can’t attend? Well, if a school is oversubscribed it is allowed to use certain criteria which families wishing their child to be included must meet. Some schools have as many as 18 of these.

So, which schools are the most selective? Typically they are religious and give preference to children whose parents attend church frequently.  Catholic primary schools were more selective than any others.  The reason for this is that Catholic schools often admit pupils purely on their parents’ faith whereas Church of England schools include a quota from families with no religion.

What’s wrong with that, you might think.  After all, shouldn’t faith schools be for children of that faith? Well, because children from non-religious families are excluded it has an effect on social inequality.  Those who go to church regularly are much more likely to be from a ‘higher’ social class, with poorer and more disadvantaged families being less inclined to attend.

Do you think that schools should be able to choose their own pupils?  I’m not talking about their levels of intelligence or their 11+ exam results (that’s a topic for another day!), I mean purely on the basis of their family’s social class or their religion.

If you have any questions about parenting or education, then you may find the answer in our Knowledge Bank. It’s a collection of informative articles which aim to help parents through the challenges of child raising.

I’ll leave you with the words of Sir Peter Lampl, philanthropist and chairman of the Sutton Trust:

“Disadvantaged young people should have the same chance of accessing the best state school in their neighbourhood as their better off neighbour.”

Do you agree or should schools be free to admit who they want?  Let us know what you think.

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