Schoolzone | Selective Comprehensives Great Britain

Selective Comprehensives Great Britain

Date: 22.07.2019

Selective Comprehensives Great Britain considers schools in England, Scotland and Wales, looking at the proportion of pupils eligible for Free School Meals at the top fifth performing schools (top sixth in England), and comparing this with both the national average and with their local catchment area.

Key findings:

  • In all three nations, the proportion of disadvantaged pupils at the best schools was around half of the average, showing that their intakes are substantially different from the norm. In all three nations the average deprivation rank of all schools is near the 50th percentile (the middle), however the groups of top performing schools on average drew students from among the most advantaged areas in each country.
  • The reasons for these differences varied between nations. In England and Wales, about half of the disadvantage gap can be explained by the location of the best schools in more affluent areas. In England, the FSM rates in the catchment areas of top schools was 12.8%, 4.7 percentage points below the national average. In Wales it was 13.6%, 5.2 below the national average.
  • In Scotland however, where most children attend their nearest school, the FSM catchment rate for a top school was even lower at 9.1%, 7.2 percentage points beneath the national average. However, while the best Scottish schools are equally as unrepresentative as those in England and Wales, this is almost entirely as a result of their concentration in more affluent areas, and not due to social selectivity within their catchment areas.
  • The landscape of school admissions is different in the three countries, with distinctive factors influencing the admissions processes in schools. In England, as a result of the academisation process over the past two decades, 89% of top secondary schools can act as their own admissions authority. In Wales just 17% of top schools control their own admissions – at voluntary aided (faith) schools and foundation schools. Whereas in Scotland, all school admissions are controlled by local authorities. In England and Wales, FSM gaps are over twice as large in schools which control their own admissions, compared to local authority controlled admissions.


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