Rising number of schools 'banding' pupils

The number of schools using lotteries of "banding" pupils by their ability during the admissions process is on the rise, according to research. The Sutton Trust found more schools were using this process to admit a mix of students.

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Calls for 'partnerships' for fairer pupil admissions

Schools should work together on the admissions process and adopt a "banding" approach to pupil selection in order to break through the flaws in the catchment area system, education campaigners have said.

The Sutton Trust, which found the banding system of separating pupils according to academic ability and then selecting a mix, called on more urban schools to adopt this approach.

We believe that more urban schools should use such methods, but for them to be most effective, they should develop them in partnership with other schools and local authorities.

A common fear of such approaches is that children living next door to a school may not get admitted.

It is possible to address such concerns by using an inner and outer catchment area, with those living closest to the school in the inner area, but access opened to a wider group of parents in the outer catchment.

This is an approach taken by some schools and academies already.

– Conor Ryan

Free schools behind rise in use of 'banding'

Free schools and academies are behind the rise in the use of "banding" pupils during the admissions process, according to new research.

"Banding" involves putting pupils into different "ability bands" based on test results. Credit: PA

Education charity the Sutton Trust found the number of state schools separating pupils into different categories based on their academic ability was on the rise.

This was a knock on effect from academies and free schools who were allowed to set their own admission rules, according to the trust.

Research conducted for the Sutton Trust by academics at the London School of Economics analysed the admissions policies of around 3,000 state secondary schools and academies in England for the 2012/13 school year.

They found 121 schools in England used a "banding" system as part of their admissions policy in 2012/13, compared to 95 who were using this method in 2008.

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