Fair access to schools?

This report from the UK think tank Education Policy Institute looks at how parents use school appeals and waiting lists to secure a place for their child and whether the system is fair.

This research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) examines the school appeals and waiting lists system in England. Drawing on newly available parental preferences data, the study examines how parents use these routes to secure a school place for their child. The report is the first, detailed, analysis of the secondary school appeals and waiting lists system. Up until now, little has been known about the routes parents take if not initially offered their first choice of school. The schools that pupils attend have an impact on their life chances. Ensuring that there is fair access to school places in all parts of the country is crucial if the government’s objective of improving social mobility is to be met.

The report finds that families in the most affluent areas are twice as likely as those in the poorest to secure their top choice of school through the appeals and waiting lists system. Families from some ethnic minority groups are also more likely to miss out on their top choice compared to White British families. Around 86,000 families in England were not offered their first choice school. Of these, around 1 in 7 (13,000) successfully appealed or used waiting lists to secure their top choice. The report calls on the government to deliver on its 2017 promise to review school admissions: failure to reform the system may entrench inequality in the school system.

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