Selective Comprehensives 2024

Think tank: The Sutton Trust

Author(s): Kevin Latham

January 11, 2024

In this report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust, the NFER updates its work on Selective Comprehensives 2017 and discusses what it means for understanding an education sector in transition.

The Sutton Trust has published a series of research pieces looking at school admissions, repeatedly uncovering evidence that England’s top comprehensive schools are, in practice, often highly socially selective.

Building on this previous work, this research brief finds that the top 500 comprehensive schools in England still show a significant gap between the rates of Free School Meal eligibility in the local area they draw their students from and the FSM rates of their actual intakes. This gap is significantly larger in these schools than in the average comprehensive, meaning that disadvantaged pupils are less likely to get into top schools even if they have one in their local area.

Changes in the education sector in recent years suggest the problem of unfair admissions to the top schools is not going away and may even be getting worse. This brief is accompanied by the report Selective Comprehensives 2024 written by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) for the Sutton Trust.

In the report, the NFER updates on their previous work for us on Selective Comprehensives 2017, independently outlining their findings and what they mean for understanding an education sector in transition.