Control admissions call

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Control over admissions should be removed from individual schools and given to local authorities, a leading academic has said.

Anne West, from the London School of Economics, says that systems where a council or other agency decides admissions improve achievement and reduce social segregation.

Her paper, School Choice, Equity and Social Justice: The Case for More Control, which is published in this month's British Journal of Educational Studies, will be taken as a major criticism of the Government's education Bill.

Professor West said: "Schools with responsibility for their own admissions are more likely than others to act in their own self interest."

School admissions have been a source of controversy in the Government's plans because they promote the creation of trust schools, which decide their own admissions policies.

Professor West found that voluntary, aided and foundation schools which decide their own admissions are more likely to use selection interviews.

They were also less likely to give priority to pupils seen as being harder to teach, such as those with special needs.

During a seminar this week Professor West said that the ban on interviews may not work because schools could still use informal "meetings" with parents to gain the information needed to select.

She argues for "controlled choice" systems which take account of parental preferences but allow local authorities to ensure that schools have balanced academic and socio-economic intakes.

* Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, will be among the speakers at a TES-supported conference on the education Bill due to take place next Friday at the TUC headquarters in London.

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