Selective schools not more socially exclusive, says study

Top comprehensives take less than their fair share of pupils from deprived homes

Top comprehensive schools are more socially exclusive than selective grammar schools, according to a major study out today.

It found that they were far less likely to take their fair share of youngsters from disadvantaged homes than the 164 remaining grammar schools.

In fact, a list of the 100 most socially selective schools in the country included 91 comprehensives, eight grammar schools and even one secondary modern schools.

The report, by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of the University of Buckingham's Centre for Education and Employment Research, said the 164 top performing comprehensives – on average – took in only 9.2 per cent of children from deprived income homes compared with 13.5 per cent for the grammar schools.

In both cases, the schools would have had to take in 20 per cent to reflect the social mix in the area.In addition, it found that the leading comprehensives were also less likely to take in pupils from ethnic minority groups.

The report, commissioned by the Sutton Trust – the education charity set up by millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl – queries whether Labour's strict code on admissions – which outlaws interviewing parents seeking a place – has had any impact in solving the problem of back-door selection. "There is still wriggle room for schools that want to ensure a favourable intake to enable them to show up well in the league tables," the authors argue.

The report recommends that schools should look to introducing ballots to ensure a fairer method of admitting pupils. The procedure, introduced in Brighton and used by a handful of academies, has faced criticism by politicians for turning the whole process into a lottery, on the basis that "no child's education should be decided by the roll of a dice".

However, Sir Peter, in a foreword to the report, argues: "There has to be some way of choosing which pupils are admitted and ballots offer the same chances to all children irrespective of their background."

The report argues there are still methods through which comprehensive schools can use covert selection. "Schools with a religious affiliation can give preference to people of the faith," it says. "Some comprehensive schools have retained the right from when they were grammar schools to select a proportion of their intakes by ability and some specialist schools are able to select up to 10 per cent by aptitude. Schools can use distance from the school as a criterion and this may tend to exclude low-income homes if it sits in a prosperous area."

On the question of grammar schools admitting more pupils from ethnic minority groups, the report says: "When they have the choice, it seems that parents tend to seek out schools which take children similar to their own."

This is said to be the reason for the one secondary modern school being on the list of the 100 most socially exclusive. It serves a leafy county area of the country with a largely white British intake in an area which is still selective.

The figures show that – whereas 18 grammar schools have fewer than 50 per cent white British entrants – only one comparable comprehensive does. "A high proportion of ethnic minority sub-groups were admitted to the grammars but particularly those from Indian and Chinese backgrounds," it says.

The Liberal Democrats would argue that their top education priority to introduce a £2,500 "pupil premium" for every youngster enrolled from a disadvantaged home would address the problem. However, the report wonders whether this would be enough to defeat the pressure schools face from securing a good position in exam league tables.

The Conservatives aim to create "more good schools" by allowing parents to set them up themselves which, the report argues, "is a difficult case to make given the financial state of the country". It adds: "There are reasons for doubting whether this approach would make secondary education less socially selective because the schools are likely to be set up by particular groups concerned mostly with the interests of their own children."

On Labour's policy of cracking down on covert selection with a mandatory admissions code banning interviews, the report says its impact is "arguable".

"It is undeniable, however, that the admissions code is complicated, time-consuming and causes a lot of heartache to parents," it adds.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

KS1 Primary Teacher Supply Halifax

£130 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Are you an inspirational, ent...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Maths Teacher required for ...

Lower Key Stage 2 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education and recruitin...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Group: Being the UK market leader, Ran...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game