General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Ballots 'fairest' for school places


Belfast Telegraph

All over-subscribed secondary schools should choose new pupils by ballot, a report has said.

A study carried out for the Sutton Trust recommended that this would be the fairest way to allocate places and give poorer pupils a better chance.

This year it was estimated that 100,000 primary pupils would miss out on their first choice secondary school.

A number of schools are already using random draws to decide which students are offered a place.

The research said that after factors such as home address, faith and siblings had been taken into account, names could be drawn at random to give everyone the same chance.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, wrote in the foreword: "Deployed alongside other selection criteria, ballots are the fairest way of deciding school places in over-subscribed schools. There has to be some way of choosing which pupils are admitted, and ballots offer the same chances to all children irrespective of their background."

The report also found that grammar schools took more pupils from deprived backgrounds than leading comprehensives. It examined Government data on children whose families live on benefits to discover where they went to school.

The country's top 164 comprehensive schools took 9.2% of pupils from poorer backgrounds, although they were based in areas where a fifth of children were from deprived homes.

This was compared to 164 grammar schools which drew their students from similar areas but allowed in 13.5% from less affluent families.

The report was written by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson from the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham.



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