Social segregation in schools: how to make the admissions system fairer

British Education Policy

UK schools are among the most socially segregated in the developed world. Aside from the damaging effects that this has on social cohesion it also exacerbates the attainment gap between rich and poor. In many cases the best state schools admit a disproportionate number of affluent students. Recent research by the Sutton Trust found that the percentage of students on Free School Meals (FSM) at the top 500 secondary schools in the UK was just under half the national average. What is particularly distressing about this is that the current admissions system makes it easier for some schools to indirectly select by background.

The causes of social segregation in our school system are undoubtedly complex. Part of the problem is the postcode lottery. Good schools often have wealthy catchment areas. In fact, the evidence suggests that school quality has a strong effect on house prices: parents are willing to pay…

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