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Secondary School

Secondary School

Overview of Secondary School.

In 2013 the Department began to collect individualized data on parents’ ranked preferences from local authorities’ admissions processes. The data has been linked to the National Pupil Database, and the linked dataset constitutes a unique opportunity to study the ways that parents choose schools, and parents’ diverse experiences of the admissions process.

This report has been commissioned to demonstrate the potential of the linked data to inform key areas of the Department’s policy agenda. We focus on two timely themes: social mobility and the London effect; and the effect of school admissions arrangements on access for different groups of families.

Secondary School

The report focuses on admissions to secondary schools in 2013, although the linked data currently extends to primary and secondary school admissions in 2013 and 2014.

School admissions and equality of access

It has been observed that the intakes of autonomous schools, and Church schools, in particular, tend to be more socially-advantaged, higher-ability and less ethnically-diverse, than the composition of such schools’ local neighborhoods (Andrews and Johnes, 2016; Cantle and Kaufmann, 2016; iCoCo et al., 2017).

However, it is not easy to disentangle the causes of the apparent stratification in autonomous schools, including the majority of Church schools. It is possible that the patterns of uneven sorting along socio-economic and ethnic lines merely reflect the diverse preferences for Church schools of different groups. Conversely, it is possible that for some reason disadvantaged and minority ethnic groups are less able to access places at Church and other autonomous schools.

Allen and West (2011) suggest that the socio-economic profile of Christian families in England may explain much of the stratification since higher-socio-economic groups are more likely to identify as Christian. However, they also find that lower-income families identifying as Christian are less likely to attend a Church school than more affluent families.

Even if admissions arrangements play a role, this may not be to do with deliberate selection. It may be that lower-income groups are less able to access popular schools because they are less able to afford houses within the catchment zones of popular schools, where house prices have been driven up by demand for the schools themselves. This effect, dubbed ‘selection by mortgage’, potentially affects admissions to any popular school whose oversubscription criteria include a distance criterion.

The report uses a statistical method that controls for both variation in preferences, and home location, to isolate and examine families’ different chances of successfully accessing Church schools and other autonomous schools, for children with different characteristics.

The secondary school admissions process

Each year, parents in England who wish to send their children to state-maintained secondary schools are invited to rank between three and six schools in order of preference. Parents are encouraged to use all of their options, but many parents submit only one or two preferences. Local authorities receive the ranked lists and inform schools of the applications they have received.

Whenever the number of applications received by a school exceeds its Published Admissions Number (PAN), the quota set by the school for admissions, the school is asked to submit to the local authority a ranking of applicants according to the school’s published admissions policy. For community schools, the local authority creates ranking. Own-admissions authority schools, such as academies and voluntary-aided schools use the information they have gathered through the admissions process and supplementary information forms to rank applications themselves.

Local authorities then use parents’ ranked lists of schools, and schools’ ranked lists of children, to allocate school places fairly and ensure that every child is allocated to a school. This part of the process is not as straightforward as it sounds, and in fact, the efficient solution to the problem of reconciling all of these preferences and priorities draws upon a substantial body of theory in the fields of economics and computer science.

Although it is not necessary to go into the details of this theory, it is sufficient to recognize that there may be more than one plausible allocation for a given set of preferences and priorities, and that the details of the allocation mechanism affect not only the outcomes of the admissions process but also, potentially, the incentives that parents (and admissions authorities) face in submitting their lists of preferences (priorities). In short, each local authority uses an algorithm to reconcile the competing rankings of parents and schools to compute an allocation that satisfies some criteria of fairness and maximizes satisfaction. After parents have been informed of their child’s allocation, they may appeal the decision or request to be added to their preferred school’s waiting list.

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Shoaib Maqsood
Shoaib Maqsood
Shoaib Maqsood Lives in Sargodha City
https://globalcollegedegrees.com

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