New EPI report exploring admissions to secondary schools and parental choice

This week, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has released a report exploring the relationship between secondary school admissions and parental choice. The research cross-referenced a new “national census” of parental secondary school choices with different datasets, looking to see whether pupils with certain characteristics were more likely than others to be admitted to schools with good or better Ofsted ratings and high performance outcomes.

Overall, the research found regional differences in terms of how many schools parents applied for - potentially reflecting the fact that, in some areas of the country (particularly London), pupils have a significantly lower chance of being accepted into their first choice school. Interestingly, the research also identified that 17% of parents applied for a school that was Ofsted rated ‘requires improvement’ or lower. In 27% of these cases, this was despite the fact that there was an Ofsted good or outstanding school in closer proximity to the family home – with parents of disadvantaged pupils “much more likely than others” to fit into this category.

Beyond this, the report also found significant differences in terms of pupil characteristics and the likelihood of children being accepted into a first choice school rated as Ofsted good or better. Looking specifically at London, the report found small differences in the likelihood of pupil premium children, or those with low prior attainment, applying for and being accepted into Ofsted good or better schools. Of most significance, the report found that while “white British families are 4% less likely than black parents to apply to a good school” in London, “when they do they are 19% more likely to be offered their first preference school”. The EPI is commissioning further research to explore the reasons behind these “stark ethnic gaps” and to assess whether these trends are reflected on a national scale.

Governors and trustees are reminded that under no circumstances should a school discriminate against a pupil on any grounds as such practice is both highly immoral and unlawful. If in doubt, NGA has a number of resources on the Guidance Centre to help governors and trustees of academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools (who are the admission authorities in these schools) understand their responsibilities.

Published: 14/09/2018, by Tom Fellows
Last Updated: 14/09/2018, by Tom Fellows