Commenting on new research published by the Sutton Trust including polling of parents and teachers on their views on school admissions, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“To ensure the same educational and training opportunities are available to all there needs to be a level playing field. Social segregation has lasting effects, letting down pupils and communities alike – often deep into adult life. School admission policies must be fair and decided at a local authority level.

“A decade of Conservative governments has led to a school system which is atomised, fractured and confusing. It is no wonder there has been a decline in teachers’ and senior leaders’ general understanding of the local and national picture. The legacy of academisation is not one of school improvement but of competition, leading to a marked imbalance during the admissions process.

“This disconnect is what leads to many schools with low numbers of disadvantaged pupils performing significantly better in league tables than their neighbours. The blind eye given to high exclusion rates in academies and free schools also needs addressing. Off-rolling has become commonplace, targeting specific groups of students at a far higher rate – predominantly those with behavioural, emotional and social needs, as our research with EPI shows. (1)

“If the Government is serious about supporting the potential of all young people, then the sea-change must start with them. Returning powers to local authorities to open new community schools would be a start and is an idea popular with parents and staff. This welcome report shows there is clear support for a review of admission policy, which again would be overseen most effectively by local authorities. Through this approach a level of coherence and fairness can be restored to local provision.”

Editor’s Note

  1. Unexplained pupil exits from schools: A growing problem?, Education Policy Institute, 18 April 2019.