Schools: Admissions Policies

House of Lords written question – answered at on 19 July 2005.

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Photo of Baroness David Baroness David Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider the admissions policy of grammar schools to be fair; and

What they have done since 1997 to ensure that there are fair admission arrangements for children of all abilities and circumstances to primary and secondary schools.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

We have made substantial progress in the eight years since 1997 in achieving an equitable system of admissions across both the primary and secondary sectors.

We do not support selective education. However, where selection exists, we believe it is for local parents to decide whether or not it is removed; and the grammar school ballot process allows parents to decide if selection should be removed.

We have also legislated in order to simplify the admissions process and to make the system fairer for parents and children. This includes:

issuing codes of practice for admissions and admission appeals. These give clear guidance on acceptable practices to admission authorities and to schools; giving local authorities and other schools the right to object to any admission arrangements and parents the right to object to some admission arrangements, including some forms of selection in place before 1997; and introducing co-ordinated admissions to secondary schools (for 2005) and to primary schools (for 2006). This system has had a significant impact in improving parents' chances of obtaining a preferred school, as parents can no longer hold more than one offer of a school place within their area.

However, the key to a fair system does not rest with admission arrangements alone but in driving up standards across the broad range of schools so that all parents have access to good quality education. Nationally, the Government have implemented a range of improvement programmes, including literacy and numeracy strategies, creating academies and developing specialist schools, all of which contribute to raising standards across a broad range of schools. We also have a programme of providing capital funding for those good and popular schools who wish to expand to do so, thereby providing more places for children at good schools.

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