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School admissions and "selection" in comprehensive schools: policy and practice

By Anne West, Audrey Hind and Hazel Pennell


This article examines secondary school admissions criteria in England. The analysis revealed that in a significant minority of schools, notably those responsible for their own admissions—voluntary-aided and foundation schools—a variety of criteria were used which appear to be designed to select certain groups of pupils and so exclude others. Specialist schools were more likely than non-specialist schools to report selecting a proportion of pupils on the basis of aptitude/ability in a particular subject area but voluntary-aided/foundation schools were far more likely to select on this basis than community/voluntary-controlled schools. Criteria giving priority to children with medical/social needs were given for nearly three-quarters of schools; however, community/voluntary-controlled schools were more likely to include this as a criterion than were voluntary-aided/foundation schools. Nearly two-fifths of schools mentioned as an oversubscription criterion, pupils with special educational needs; these were predominantly community/voluntary-controlled schools as opposed to voluntary-aided/foundation schools. The evidence reported here reveals that despite attempts by the Labour Government to reform school admissions, considerable 'selection' takes place. Implications for policy are addressed

Topics: L Education (General)
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1080/0305498042000260485
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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