According to The Guardian, this year 70.3% of Birmingham parents/carers “won” a place for their child at their first place secondary school. That’s a pretty good percentage, although it is apparently down by 3% on last year.
At Data Unlocked we’ve being doing work on school admissions, especially in Birmingham, for a number of years now. Following a recent Freedom of Information request we have been able to break down how children from Birmingham get into Birmingham secondary schools, based on the selection criteria.
To clarify: this is children in Birmingham who are offered a place at a Birmingham secondary school. Children from outside Birmingham and Birmingham children who travel to school outside Birmingham, aren’t included in these figures.
From this, we’ve pulled out four interesting facts, or observations:
- A quarter of children are admitted to a school because their brother or sister is already there. That seems quite a high proportion, and more than we would have guessed. Of course, if their sibling got in by living close to the school then they might have qualified on distance too.
- Over a fifth of kids are passing a selective test to go to school. There are arguments made that the rest of the city’s schools suffer because the brightest children are syphoned off by the grammar schools. A fifth of the cohort is a lot of syphoning.
- Only a third of children with statements use that statement to gain admission to a school. According to the Department of Education, 3.1% of Birmingham children have a statement of special educational needs. Last year, just 1.13% of admissions were based on a statement of special educational needs. So, most children with statements aren’t placed in a school named on it.
- Just over 1 in 20 children were placed in a school by the local authority. This means that their parents or carers didn’t make a successful choice on their behalf.
This is very high-level, but observations 2 and 4 do point to there being inequalities in the way that school places are allocated in Birmingham.
Data Unlocked have done some work looking at where the 1:20 children go when they are placed by the local authority, and that will form the basis of the next post in this series.