Our Campaign

What we want to change

Our aim is a comprehensive secondary school system with fair admissions to all publicly funded schools and an end to selection by ability and aptitude.

We want to end entry tests by ability and aptitude.

We want to see all schools bound into the School Admissions Code in the same way, regardless of whether they are maintained schools, academies, free schools or CTCs

We want to see the administration of all admissions to publicly funded schools managed by the local authority even if the criteria are set by the school. This would relieve all schools of the administrative burden and bring more openness to the procedure.

Any decision to introduce banding, ie admitting children to reflect the ability profile, should be made by the local admission forum and should apply to all schools in the area using the same method. The test on which banding is to be based should be taken by all children in the primary schools so that banding would reflect the ability profile across the area and not just those who apply to the school.

The current situation

We don’t yet have a fully comprehensive school system in England. Around 20% of English primary children face entry tests on ability to move on to secondary school. Selection still exists in a quarter of English local authority areas.

Increasing numbers of schools now have the freedom to set and manage their own admissions. The current government has weakened the School Admissions Code, which sets out the rules about how schools manage their oversubscription criteria, and local authorities have a diminished role in overseeing how admissions work in their areas. We believe this will lead to more unfairness and segregation.

Why we want to change

Most parents want a good local school with fair admissions and a balanced intake. All the international evidence suggests that high qualify all-ability schools with balanced intakes are the best way of ensuring that every child receives a first-rate education.

Schools that use selective entry tests, or other opaque methods of covert selection, can damage other local schools by distorting their intakes.

Admissions criteria should be objective and transparent, allow parents to exercise choice fairly and judge their chances of success when applying.

Selective entry tests mean the majority of children are rejected and can start their secondary school careers feeling like failures. But human potential is not fixed and no one can predict how a child will develop in their teenage years. Every child should have the chance to develop their potential without any prejudgement of what that might be.

The statistics show that the intakes of selective schools are skewed towards better off children, whose parents can often afford private tuition that can help to pass entry tests. So selection at 11 hinders social mobility and leads to more segregation in local communities.

What we’re already doing

We lobby decision makers, provide information to the public and the media, and support local campaigns

We lobby decision makers based on the evidence we gather from our own surveys, from academic research and from the local stories we receive from supporters, parents, governors, heads and teachers. We provide information to the public and the media through our website, pamphlets and public meetings. We support local campaigns on admissions and put campaigners in touch with each other.

How you can help us

We need your support: please join us. And, if you can, send us a donation.

Contact your MP pressing for an end to selection and a fairer admission system.

Send us information about school admissions in your area – you should be able to get information about this from your local authority website. Ask to see any reports your local authority has done on school admissions. Find out if you have a local admissions forum. Look at the school adjudicator website to see if there have been objections about local schools.

If your area is affected by selection send us your personal report of its effect.

You can also follow us on Twitter.

News + updates

  • Steering group member Alan Gurbutt writes to the press about the situation in selective Lincolnshire  where he lives.
  • Recent articles by Melissa Benn and Kate Pickett encourage Jeremy Corbyn to have a clear policy on ending selection now.
  • Book now for the Comprehensive Future Conference – Selection – the growing threat
    Saturday 21st November, 11am – 3.30pm , Coffee and registration from 10.00 am
    Parker Morris Hall, Abbey Community Centre
    34 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU
    Many speakers including Melissa Benn, Fiona Millar, Caroline Lucas MP, Jonathon Simons (Policy Exchange),BeckyAllen Education Datalab, headteachers and parents. An opportunity to discuss the campaign’s next steps.Fee including lunch is £10. To book  go to – https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/185434
  • Today 16th January 2015 is a big admissions day as the Annual Report of the Chief Adjudicator is out. The BBC and the TES comment. Meanwhile the Social Market Foundation call for popular schools to take a quota of poorer children. We think the report backs up our call for a wide ranging review of school admissions.
  • In a Westminster debate this week Tory MPs speak up for grammars and Labour says its policy is still that parents should decide.
  • Gifted Phoenix an education blogger has written a long blog about grammars and  grammars and disadvantage
  • Go to the SEA website to hear the excellent speech from Dr Selina Todd about the myth of grammar schools and the opportunity they offered to the working class. Meanwhile David Lammy MP and Boris Johnson want to see selection at 11 continue!
  • In an  article in the Guardian today (7.10.2014) Fiona Millar lifts the lid on secondary school admissions.
  • Bucks campaigners have shown that tutor proof tests do not help poor children. Better surely to end selection tests, go comprehensive and spend the money saved on schools and all pupils?
  • Speakers at our fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference on September 21st include Owen Jones and Fiona Millar
  • Our report on the survey done on admissions criteria of English secondary schools has encouraged debate particularly on banding in the TES, BBC website and the Local Schools Network, although the report has also much more to say about other aspects of admissions and supports our call for a review of admissions.  The Conversation in March had a useful post on banding by Professor John Coldron.