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Best English comprehensives are being socially selective

06/06/2013 Kelly
The best comprehensive schools in England are more likely to be socially selective than the typical state school. 

A new report by the Sutton Trust has found the uptake of free school meals (FSM) in the top 500 performing comprehensives in the country is 7.6 per cent, compared to a national average of 15.2 per cent.

Indeed, 95 per cent of the learning centres in this group have a smaller proportion of their pupils on FSM than their local areas, while all of them had more than 69 per cent of pupils who received at least five good GCSEs in 2012.

In order to prevent schools only taking on the best pupils, some in the education sector want to see the introduction of lotteries to select students - as this would prevent the majority of places going to those children whose parents can afford to live beside well performing education establishments.

According to the report, 75 per cent of the top 500 comprehensives look after their own admissions policies, compared to only 61 per cent of all non-academically selective schools.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, pointed out how going to a top comprehensive school can open the door to social mobility, adding: "Who gets admitted to these schools matters because they are the ones most likely to attend the best universities and most likely to succeed in the top professions."

While he admitted most schools do not have overt selection policies, there are some assigning places based on social status. This means certain pupils will continue to get access to the best teachers.

However, schools can still perform well even if they have a lot of pupils who are on FSM. For example, Chesterton Community Sports College in Newcastle-under-Lyme has a FSM rate of 22.1 per cent - it's local authority average was 9.8 per cent. 

Headteacher at the learning centre Lynn Jackson said the good results are down to the quality of the people employed in teacher jobs. 

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801595342-ADNFCR
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