Poorest children still get the worst schools, report reveals

13 Oct 05
A leading educational charity has hit out at the inequities in the education system, releasing research showing that only a tiny proportion of the country's poorest children have access to the best schools.

14 October 2005

A leading educational charity has hit out at the inequities in the education system, releasing research showing that only a tiny proportion of the country's poorest children have access to the best schools.

The report from the Sutton Trust, published on October 10, reveals that only 3% of pupils at the 200 top state secondary schools qualify for free school meals, compared with a national average of 4.3%.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chair of the Sutton Trust, said: 'We have replaced an education system which selected on ability with one that is socially selective: the best comprehensives serve the relatively affluent, while the remaining grammar schools attract far too few able students from poor backgrounds.'

Lampl urged the best performing schools to broaden their intake by reaching out to local communities. He also reiterated the trust's call for a national network of school buses, which would put top-flight schools within reach of all children, not just those whose parents were able to drive them by car.

But the Department for Education and Skills said the government was determined to make sure children from all backgrounds had access to high-quality education.

'Evidence from our Excellence in Cities initiative shows that schools with the highest levels of free school meals are closing the performance gap with schools with fewer disadvantaged children,' a spokesman said.

He added that a high proportion of the 200 schools singled out in the Sutton Trust's report were grammar schools. 'It is a well known fact that these schools select on the basis of high ability rather than other criteria like a pupil's background,' he said.

PFoct2005

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