Academies have been criticised today for being selective, choosing more privileged pupils which has "attracted controversy and fuelled concerns that the growth of academies may entrench rather than mitigate social inequalities". An academies commission has found that many schools have chosen to pick the best students as an alternative to improving the schools and raising standards.
Is this not the similar result to the process in Medway and other areas of the country where there is already a selective system in place? The grammar school system here means year 6 pupils have the opportunity to take the 11+ which, if successful, means they will be taken in to consideration by the 6 grammar schools in the area. The pass mark varies ensuring that 23% of pupils will pass to fill spaces in the grammar schools.
This 11+ system has been criticised as 11 seems too early to put that much pressure on a child to take an exam that will have some impact on their future. My sister’s friend had training with her mother every day to pass on top of her school hours. The pressure some parents put on their children to pass is immense despite many non- grammar schools competing at the same level academically as grammar schools.
However, this system is based on academic ability, with secondary schools accepting students on their pass marks. There may still be an element of a class division between the schools as it has been argued that material and cultural factors affect academic achievement, but this has got to be better than the covert system that some academies are accused of using. State schools must follow an admissions code which means they must have a fair admissions system.
The admissions procedure does not allow schools to interview parents or children or give priority to those who offer financial support. But as with most things, schools have found ways around the rules to pick the students whose parents can provide the most for the school and putting poorer families at a further disadvantage. There is no straight forward solution as the report suggests that emphasising the need for diversity will help, but this has a limit as disadvantaged families will continue to be at a loss. So, is there a way to ensure that schools have a diverse range of class and ability? Or is there always going to be a divide?
Other problems found with academies and explanations can be found in these articles: