A "stark gap” in terms of the number of black pupils being offered places at "good" or "outstanding" schools, compared with white pupils, has been revealed in research published today.
The research, by the Education Policy Institute, highlights a “key concern” in London. Despite white British families there being 4 per cent less likely than black parents to apply to such schools, when they do so they are 19 per cent more likely to be offered a place.
The report states: "It is not clear from this first look at the data whether and to what extent these stark ethnic gaps are replicated elsewhere in the country and what is driving these.
“We are planning further research over the next two years on the role of parental preferences and admissions in unequal access to 'good' schools, including for primary schools.”
Meanwhile, research also published today by the Sutton Trust highlights “ethically dubious tactics” being used by “professional parents” to get their kids into a good school.
In a survey, almost a third of parents admitted they knew someone who was buying or renting a second home close to a good school, or using the address of a relative, so as to be in the catchment area – both of which are "potentially fraudulent tactics.”
Trust founder Sir Peter Lampl also highlighted other measures by which parents “with money, education and confidence” give their children an advantage, including paying for private tuition and out-of-school extracurricular activities, and providing support with post-18 educational choices.
School admissions: Levelling the playing field
But he said: “There are some practical measures that can be taken to level the playing field, such as fairer school admissions and providing tuition to those who can’t afford it.”
The trust's recommendations include that pupil-premium students be given priority in admissions when school places are oversubscribed, and that schools establish homework clubs to give disadvantaged students extra encouragement.
The EPI report reveals that pupil-premium students are less likely to be offered a place at a "good" or "outstanding" school in London.
It concludes: “It is possible that these differences reflect ethnic minority and pupil-premium families living further away from 'good' schools," the report says.
"However, this is unlikely to be the full story as recent research taking home-to-school distance into account similarly finds clear differences in success rates by ethnic groups living in big cities.”
Other EPI findings reveal that one in six parents nationally still chooses a secondary school as the first choice for their child despite it being rated as either "inadequate" or "requiring improvement" by Ofsted.
And around a quarter of parents choose such schools despite having a "good" or "outstanding" school as their nearest school.
The report also shows geographical differences when it comes to parents receiving their first choice school, with virtually all parents in areas such as Northumberland, central Bedfordshire and Cornwall being offered their top preference, compared with just over half in the London boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Lambeth.