Top comprehensive schools 'exercise covert selection'


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The Independent Online

Top comprehensive schools are selecting their pupils by stealth, a leading education charity warns.

A study of the 500 top performing comprehensives at GCSE level shows that, on average, they have less than half the number of pupils on free school meals than the average school, with 7.6 per cent as opposed to 16.5 per cent.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which aims to promote social mobility and produced today’s report, said many schools were “exercising a form of social selection”. He added: “The bottom line is: how good a school you go to depends on your parents’ income.”

The report shows that comprehensives that are faith schools or academies both have higher representation in the table.

In all, 95 per cent of the schools in the top 500 had a smaller proportion of pupils on free school meals – an indicator of poverty – than the average for their local areas.

The report points out that most comprehensives – the 75 per cent that are either faith or academies – are in control of their own admissions policies. “They are exercising covert selection,” said Sir Peter.