School Admissions Tuck Shop: Ability
Selecting your child's first secondary school place based on what they can offer your child academically can be one of the ways to ensure they have a bright future. A number of schools in the country are still able to offer selection by ability.
Should schools select by ability?
Currently, it is not allowed for schools to do so unless they are a grammar school, a partially selective school or they are entitled to select by aptitude in certain subjects. The selection arrangements should be set out very clearly in the school admission arrangements. Certain schools can also offer banding tests and these usually require close scrutiny to ensure fairness and compliance with the Codes of Practice.
There are numerous arguments for and against the opportunity for schools to select pupils based on ability. The pressure put on children to perform to get into a grammar school of their choice is immense. It often results in months of extra study, less time with their friends and more pressure on parents and from parents to help them perform. However, it can be demonstrated statistically that selective schools are amongst the best performing in the academic league tables and this can be very attractive to many parents.
If parents are unsuccessful in making an application for selective schools, making an appeal to a selective school is the same as making an appeal to a non-selective school, although these appeals tend to be much more complex because of the additional need to demonstrate academic ability/aptitude. Certain schools operate very complex admission arrangements which run to several pages, particularly if the school is operating a banding system. The way that places are usually allocated at a grammar school may vary depending on the performance in the tests, followed by the application of oversubscription criteria. This is something that each admission authority should have set out clearly for families.
Getting the grades, as hard as that journey is within itself, does not guarantee your child a place. They could still achieve the target needed and find they have been turned down. If they haven’t achieved target because of the circumstances surrounding the test on the day, then the appeal may involve additional evidence being produced to demonstrate that they are of grammar school ability.The whole process can be extremely stressful, especially after your child has pushed themselves so hard to get this far. By using our school admissions map, you can find out where the most and least competitive places were for school appeals and download our free guide for help and advice on how to structure your appeal in what are usually the most complex set of appeals.