The Daily Telegraph is a surprising source of any campaign to make schools less segregated. Using research from the Fair Admissions Campaign, the paper produced a list of the 'fifty most socially exclusive schools', defined as the schools with the greatest discrepancy between the socio-economic make up of their intake and the demography of their local area. 17 of the top 20 and 68 of the top 100 are faith schools. Jonathan Romain's comment piece gave a compelling argument to end any faith-based selection.
Leaving the wider arguments to one side, there is something that faith schools could do now: step up to the responsibility for taking a greater share of pupils who need to be admitted in-year.
Our recent report on this issue, Between The Cracks, used research from the National Pupil Database to show the scale and impact of in-year admissions. Although we did not recommend changes to the brand new admissions code, our report did include the recommendation that "schools and local authorities should try to share and adopt best practices in voluntary co-ordination and Fair Access Protocols to ensure that the most vulnerable undersubscribed schools are not forced to admit an excessive number of in-year movers."
With the volume of in-year admissions possibly about to increase as a result of evictions from changes to housing benefit and an increase in the number of young people in care, our least vulnerable, oversubscribed schools need to respond appropriately. Given that church leaders have expressed concerns about the impact of benefit changes, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and others could apply some moral pressure to encourage their most popular schools to accept as many so-called 'hard to place' pupils in-year as they can possibly cater for. Whilst this may not have a significant impact on the overall nature of their intake, it will relieve pressure on other schools in their patch and, more importantly, help our young people who are most at risk of underachievement achieve far better outcomes.