Schools could be allowed to give top priority to disadvantaged pupils in the battle for places, under new proposals being drawn up by the Government.
A proposed change in the code on admissions would allow them to give top priority to those who are eligible for the “pupil premium”, which is cash given to schools to encourage them to take in more disadvantaged children. At present, only free schools and academies can do this.
The extra cash is currently worth £1,300 per primary school pupil and £935 for secondary school students.
The consultation document also suggests that primary schools could give priority to children on free school meals who attend their nurseries.
However, the move is likely to prove controversial if it means wealthier parents find it more difficult to get their child into the school of their choice.
Already it has been criticised by the Pre-School Alliance which is worried it could force parents to choose nurseries attached to schools rather than childminders to ensure their child goes on to get a place at a primary school.
Neil Leitch, its chief executive, said: “parents of eligible children. who might have preferred to place their child with a local childminder or a local private, voluntary and independent group setting, may feel under pressure to instead opt for a school-based nursery to have a better chance of securing a place at that same school later on.”
The consultation document says: “These changes are consistent with the Government’s social mobility agenda and will allow schools to support the least advantaged in society in a practical way.”