Banding and ballots: admissions in 2012/13 and the impact of growth of academies

Document type
Noden, Philip; West, Anne; Hind, Audrey
Sutton Trust
Date of publication
26 February 2014
Education and Skills
Social welfare
Material type

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This research analyses secondary schools’ admissions criteria and practices in England in 2012/13 and offers illustrative examples of how some local authorities and schools use pupil banding as part of the Year 7 admissions process.

The report provides a brief overview of the historical and policy context relating to secondary school admissions, identifying in particular the latent concerns regarding academic selection persisting from the transition from a selective to a comprehensive system and during the period of the educational quasi-market since 1988. Previous research has suggested that a significant minority of secondary schools, and in particular those responsible for their own admissions, used a variety of oversubscription criteria that could be socially selective. The research examined oversubscription criteria used by 3,001 publicly-funded secondary schools in England. The findings relating to secondary school admissions for 2012/13 show that there have been some changes since 2008. Virtually all schools now give top priority to children in local authority care, in accordance with legislation. Most of the changes from 2008 to 2012 reflect an increase in the objectivity and transparency of oversubscription criteria.