School admissions

Fairer school admissions are at the heart of our mission to break the link between educational opportunities and family background. Admission to a highly successful school puts children on a pathway to success. However, our research finds that the composition of the top schools – including comprehensives, grammars, and independent schools – is unrepresentative of the neighbourhoods they serve and the school population as a whole.

We have conducted ground-breaking work finding that high attaining comprehensive schools are substantially more socially exclusive than the average school, and added to the literature demonstrating that grammar schools are overwhelmingly attended by children from affluent families. To tackle these issues, the Sutton Trust argues for the use of ballots and banding in comprehensive schools, fairer testing and contextualised admissions in selective schools, and increased outreach to parents on school admissions.

Our research shows that much work remains to be done to ensure fair access for all children to the best schools.