The Daily Telegraph
Prioritise poor pupils instead of catchment area, state schools told
SCHOOLS should be forced to prioritise poor children in admissions to break the middle-class stranglehold on state schools, head teachers have said.
Affluent families tend to have a monopoly on property close to the most sought-after state schools, meaning they are at an advantage when it comes to admissions based on the school’s catchment area, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has argued in a report.
The union said that to counter this, schools should be made to prioritise children who live in “persistent poverty” or those who are eligible for free school meals.
“Middle-class parents have the buying power to afford homes in areas near popular schools that are rated as good or outstanding,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL.
“We may not necessarily agree with the way that Ofsted ratings work but this is the reality.
“There are, of course, many excellent schools in disadvantaged areas too, but the economics of property ownership mean that disadvantaged families don’t have the same access as middle-class parents to certain schools.
“This is an entrenched injustice which reinforces an unhealthy division between affluent and disadvantaged areas and children.”
Schools that are oversubscribed have to prioritise children who are currently or were previously in care. The ASCL says this should be extended to ensure the poorest children are also prioritised.