Rising numbers of disadvantaged pupils moving school in-year - RSA

Rising numbers of disadvantaged pupils moving school in-year

Press release

  • Education
  • Schools

Disadvantaged pupils are 40 percent more likely to be admitted ‘in year’ due to either moving homes or changing family circumstances, according to figures released by the RSA.

Analysing data from the National Pupil Database, RSA researchers discovered that those pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) are 40 percent more likely to be admitted in-year than their peers. The rate of in-year admissions among FSM pupils has also increased by 20 percent since 2007/08 whereas the rate has been falling for non-FSM pupils.

The research forms part of an on-going investigation by the RSA into the effect of in-year admissions on the educational outcomes of vulnerable children. Early analysis of the data shows that as schools increasingly take responsibility for their own admissions there’s a risk vulnerable children fall “between the cracks”, with ‘national offer day’ becoming increasingly less relevant to a large group of disadvantaged children.

An RSA survey of heads of admissions at local authorities and local admissions forums (also released today) found that nearly 75 percent of respondents were either concerned or very concerned about in-year admissions. Nearly three quarters of respondents also raised serious concerns about the fairness of the new system, believing that vulnerable children would spend more time waiting for a school place.

The RSA discovered that in-year admissions:

  • Are increasingly coming from children placed with new carers, children of refugees and asylum seekers, children moving following family breakdown, or families seeking a new school place for their child because of difficulties at a previous school.

  • Are highest in urban areas such as London, Manchester, Leicester, Nottingham and Peterborough and some coastal unitary authorities such as Blackpool, Hull and the Isle of Wight.

  • Are highest amongst certain ethnic groups including Eastern Europeans, Black Africans and Irish Travellers.

“With cuts to public spending and changes to housing benefit in particular, in-year admissions are set to become a more widespread phenomenon as children and families are forced to move to new areas with lower rents. Despite its potentially regressive impact and wide-ranging implications, the practice of in-year admissions has been largely underexplored. Our upcoming report will examine all these issues, and will make recommendations to government about how they might prevent vulnerable children from falling “between the cracks”

Analysis of the data found that:

  • In 2011/12, the London borough of Newham had the highest rate of in-year admissions with 878 pupils per 10,000. Sunderland had the lowest rate of 295 pupils compared with a UK average was 489 in year admissions per 10,000 pupils.

  • The rate of in-year admissions in England has been relatively steady over the last five years. It fell slightly between 2007/8 and 2010/11 but increased slightly in 2011/12. It should be noted that school re-organisations (e.g. closures, amalgamations etc.) may mask some in-year admissions.

  • Around 30 percent of in-year admissions occur in September and over 50 percent in the Autumn Term. There tend to be further spikes at the start of each subsequent term (and half term).

  • Rates are higher among primary age pupils (Years 1 to 5 in particular) than among secondary-age pupils.

  • Although there are some notable variations between local authorities, there are some marked within-authority variations including Oxfordshire and the City of London.

Today’s analysis follows a recent report from the RSA-led Academies Commission which concluded that academies and maintained schools should be placed on a common footing regarding admissions.

The commission called on the Secretary of State to identify an independent organisation to provide an appeals service for disputes over individual cases relating to admissions. Academies should also be required to publish comprehensive socio-economic data about who applies and who is admitted, with the Office of the Schools Adjudicator responsible for acting on suggestions of a lack of parity.

Notes to editors

1.    For more information contact RSA Head of Media Luke Robinson on 020 7451 6893 or 07799 737 970 or email Luke Robinson.

2.    This work is supported by the Local Government Association.

3.    The RSA contacted all 152 LAs in England and surveyed heads of admissions and local admissions forums, which can include a range of stakeholders as well as councillors and council staff.

4.    Local admissions forums co-ordinate the placement of in-year admissions, their membership varies and includes parents, head teachers representing the range of types of school in the area and churches with local schools in the area.

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