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Distance leading to unfair admissions

7 October 2014

report has highlighted the role of distance criteria in admission policies as a key factor in failures to narrow the gap in attainment between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. The report shows that the use of distance in admission policies as well as parental choices on schools based on the idea of 'local schools for local children' result in situations where more affluent areas will have access to a greater number of high-achieving schools and attempts to get into these schools from disadvantaged areas are hindered by distance criteria to ascertain priority for school places.

Distance remains one of the most commonly used criteria in the School Admissions Code and it is likely to remain that way unless the Code is amended to provide incentives for schools to move towards criteria which support greater social equality such as banding or random allocation. Clearly, those criteria also have disadvantages and therefore the push for all schools to become outstanding remains the ideal route to ensure the gap in attainment is closed.

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