Partially selective school (England)

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In England, a partially selective school is one of a few dozen state-funded secondary schools that select a proportion of their intake by ability or aptitude, permitted as a continuation of arrangements that existed prior to 1997.[1] Though treated together by current legislation, they are of two types: bilateral schools in remnants of the Tripartite System, and former grant-maintained schools that introduced partial selection in the 1990s. While technically classified as comprehensive schools, they occupy a middle ground between grammar schools and true comprehensives, and many of the arguments for and against grammar schools also apply to these schools. Although there are relatively few schools of this type, several of them score very highly in national performance tables, and are among the most over-subscribed schools in the country.

There are no partially selective schools in Scotland and Wales, which have wholly comprehensive systems, while Northern Ireland retains a grammar system.


Partially selective schools are of two types:

  • A bilateral school contains both grammar and non-selective streams, with the two groups of students taught separately.[2] Bilateral schools were originally part of the Tripartite System in more sparsely populated areas unable to support separate schools. Most of those existing today were established in the 1970s in a few areas retaining the Tripartite System.
  • Partial selection was introduced in some grant-maintained schools during the final years of the Conservative government led by John Major.[3] Grant-maintained status was introduced by the Education Reform Act 1988, and gave such schools control over their own admissions. Circular 6/93 permitted these schools to select up to 10% of their intake on the basis of ability or aptitude in music, art, drama or sport. Circular 6/96 permitted more selection. By 1997, over 40 schools were selecting up to 50% of pupils.[4][5]

In 1997 a Labour government was elected, with a policy of abolishing partial selection. David Blunkett, then Secretary of State for Education and Employment, said in December 1997:

I am able to confirm that the Bill and the criteria I will lay down as part of our admissions policy will remove partial selection where it currently exists. That causes havoc in terms of the admission of local children, and denies fairness to parents because of the lack of choices and opportunities open to them.[6]

However, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 permitted selection of up to 10% by aptitude for certain subjects for which a school is a specialist college (section 102), and also permitted the retention of partial selection that existed prior to the 1997 entry, provided that the proportion selected was no higher than that in 1997 (section 100).[7] The 1998 Act also created schools adjudicators, empowered to rule on objections to school admission arrangements, including partial selection. This mechanism has steadily reduced both the number of schools using selection and the proportion of partial selection at the remaining schools.[8][9]

These schools often also give preference to siblings of current pupils, filling the rest of their places using distance and/or faith criteria. The sibling criterion is particularly controversial, as in combination with selection it often severely limits the number of local children admitted. In response to these concerns, the initial draft of a revised schools admissions code proposed to ban sibling criteria in schools that selected more than 10% on their intake. After many protests, the admissions code as published in February 2007 protected siblings of current students, and permitted schools to give priority to siblings provided that "their admission arrangements as a whole do not exclude families living nearer the school."[10][11] This phrasing was removed in the revised Code published in January 2009.[12]

A late amendment to the Education and Inspections Act 2006 amended the 1998 Act to limit the proportion selected to the lowest level at any time since 1997. This forced four Hertfordshire schools to lower their proportion of academic selection from 35% to 25%.[13]

Partial selection today[edit]

The following bilateral schools continue to operate in surviving fully selective areas:[14][15]

LEA School Gender Coordinates
Lincolnshire King Edward VI Academy[16] Mixed 53°10′37″N 0°05′31″E / 53.177°N 0.092°E / 53.177; 0.092 (King Edward VI Humanities College)
Reading Reading Girls' School Girls 51°28′26″N 0°09′58″E / 51.474°N 0.166°E / 51.474; 0.166 (Reading Girls' School)
Southend-on-Sea[17] St Bernard's High School Girls 51°32′17″N 0°41′56″E / 51.538°N 0.699°E / 51.538; 0.699 (St Bernard's High School for Girls)
St Thomas More High School Boys 51°33′14″N 0°40′16″E / 51.554°N 0.671°E / 51.554; 0.671 (St Thomas More High School for Boys)
Torbay[18] The Spires College Mixed 50°28′34″N 3°31′26″W / 50.476°N 3.524°W / 50.476; -3.524 (Westlands School (Torbay))
Warwickshire Ashlawn School Mixed 52°21′25″N 1°13′52″W / 52.357°N 1.231°W / 52.357; -1.231 (Ashlawn School)

To be admitted to the selective stream, applicants must achieve the qualifying standard in an eleven plus exam, typically shared with local grammar schools. In practice, some of these schools do not fill their allocation of selective places due to competition from the neighbouring grammar schools. Unlike grammar schools, they are required to fill any remaining places with non-selective applicants.[11]

The following schools retain partial selection introduced between 1993 and 1997:[14][15]

LEA School Gender Selective proportion of intake Siblings Coordinates
Barnet[19] Mill Hill County High School Mixed 10% technology, 10% music, 5% dance yes 51°37′48″N 0°14′56″W / 51.630°N 0.249°W / 51.630; -0.249 (Mill Hill County High School)
Croydon[20] The Archbishop Lanfranc School Mixed 15% general ability yes 51°23′28″N 0°07′48″W / 51.391°N 0.130°W / 51.391; -0.130 (The Archbishop Lanfranc School)
Edenham High School Mixed 15% general ability yes 51°23′02″N 0°02′20″W / 51.384°N 0.039°W / 51.384; -0.039 (Edenham High School School)
Riddlesdown High School Mixed 15% general ability no 51°19′34″N 0°05′17″W / 51.326°N 0.088°W / 51.326; -0.088 (Riddlesdown High School)
Shirley High School Mixed 15% general ability yes 51°22′12″N 0°02′56″W / 51.370°N 0.049°W / 51.370; -0.049 (Shirley High School)
Dorset Budmouth Technology College Mixed 12% general ability yes 50°36′40″N 2°29′28″W / 50.611°N 2.491°W / 50.611; -2.491 (Budmouth Technology College)
Dudley[21] Old Swinford Hospital Boys 27% general ability yes 52°27′04″N 2°08′38″W / 52.451°N 2.144°W / 52.451; -2.144 (Old Swinford Hospital)
Essex The King John School Mixed 15% general ability yes 51°33′22″N 0°35′35″E / 51.556°N 0.593°E / 51.556; 0.593 (The King John School)
Hertfordshire[22] Dame Alice Owen's School Mixed 32.5% general ability, 5% music yes 51°41′28″N 0°12′25″W / 51.691°N 0.207°W / 51.691; -0.207 (Dame Alice Owen's School)
Parmiter's School Mixed 25% general ability, 10% music yes 51°42′11″N 0°23′20″W / 51.703°N 0.389°W / 51.703; -0.389 (Parmiter's School)
Queens' School Mixed 35% general ability, 5% music, 5% sport yes 51°39′29″N 0°22′08″W / 51.658°N 0.369°W / 51.658; -0.369 (Queens' School)
Rickmansworth School Mixed 25% general ability, 10% music yes 51°38′42″N 0°27′22″W / 51.645°N 0.456°W / 51.645; -0.456 (Rickmansworth School)
St. Clement Danes School Mixed 10% general ability, 10% music yes 51°39′50″N 0°30′50″W / 51.664°N 0.514°W / 51.664; -0.514 (St. Clement Danes School)
Watford Grammar School for Boys Boys 25% general ability, 10% music yes 51°39′18″N 0°24′50″W / 51.655°N 0.414°W / 51.655; -0.414 (Watford Grammar School for Boys)
Watford Grammar School for Girls Girls 25% general ability, 10% music yes 51°39′07″N 0°23′46″W / 51.652°N 0.396°W / 51.652; -0.396 (Watford Grammar School for Girls)
Kent[23] Archbishop's School Mixed 15% general ability yes 51°17′35″N 1°04′26″E / 51.293°N 1.074°E / 51.293; 1.074 (Archbishop's School)
Chaucer Technology School Mixed 15% general ability or technology yes 51°16′26″N 1°06′00″E / 51.274°N 1.100°E / 51.274; 1.100 (Chaucer Technology School)
Homewood School Mixed 20% general ability, 1% music yes 51°04′44″N 0°41′35″E / 51.079°N 0.693°E / 51.079; 0.693 (Homewood School)
Westlands School Mixed 10% maths yes 51°20′35″N 0°42′40″E / 51.343°N 0.711°E / 51.343; 0.711 (Westlands School (Kent))
Lambeth[24] Archbishop Tenison's School Boys weighted banding yes 51°28′59″N 0°06′58″W / 51.483°N 0.116°W / 51.483; -0.116 (Archbishop Tenison's School)
London Nautical School Boys nautical or sport yes 51°30′25″N 0°06′29″W / 51.507°N 0.108°W / 51.507; -0.108 (London Nautical School)
Lancashire Ripley St. Thomas School, Lancaster Mixed 15% language
Liverpool[25] King David High School Mixed 17% music yes 53°23′46″N 2°54′00″W / 53.396°N 2.900°W / 53.396; -2.900 (King David High School)
St Hilda's Church of England High School Girls 15% general ability no 53°23′17″N 2°56′20″W / 53.388°N 2.939°W / 53.388; -2.939 (St Hilda's Church of England High School)
St Margaret's Church of England Academy Boys 15% general ability no 53°22′08″N 2°55′48″W / 53.369°N 2.930°W / 53.369; -2.930 (St Margaret's Church of England High School)
Nottingham Nottingham Bluecoat School Mixed 10% maths and science yes 52°58′08″N 1°11′35″W / 52.969°N 1.193°W / 52.969; -1.193 (Nottingham Bluecoat School)
Peterborough[26] The Kings School Mixed 10% general ability, 2.5% music yes 52°34′55″N 0°14′20″W / 52.582°N 0.239°W / 52.582; -0.239 (The Kings School)
Poole Poole High School Mixed 10% general ability yes 50°43′30″N 1°59′02″W / 50.725°N 1.984°W / 50.725; -1.984 (Poole High School)
Southend-on-Sea[17] Cecil Jones Academy Mixed 10% general ability yes 51°33′11″N 0°43′55″E / 51.553°N 0.732°E / 51.553; 0.732 (Cecil Jones College)
Shoeburyness High School Mixed 10% general ability yes 51°31′59″N 0°46′34″E / 51.533°N 0.776°E / 51.533; 0.776 (Shoeburyness High School)
Surrey The Winston Churchill School[27] Mixed 9% general ability, 5% music yes 51°18′47″N 0°36′04″W / 51.313°N 0.601°W / 51.313; -0.601 (The Winston Churchill School)
Sutton[28] Greenshaw High School Mixed 24% general ability yes 50°55′16″N 0°08′20″W / 50.921°N 0.139°W / 50.921; -0.139 (Greenshaw High School)
Wandsworth[29] Burntwood School Girls 25% general ability yes 51°26′17″N 0°10′48″W / 51.438°N 0.180°W / 51.438; -0.180 (Burntwood School)
Chestnut Grove School Mixed 18% art and design, 18% languages yes 51°26′38″N 0°09′18″W / 51.444°N 0.155°W / 51.444; -0.155 (Chestnut Grove School)
Ernest Bevin College Boys ⅓ general ability yes 51°26′17″N 0°10′05″W / 51.438°N 0.168°W / 51.438; -0.168 (Ernest Bevin College)
Graveney School Mixed 25% general ability yes 51°25′26″N 0°09′04″W / 51.424°N 0.151°W / 51.424; -0.151 (Graveney School)

All of these schools are over-subscribed.[citation needed] All except Old Swinford Hospital, Archbishop Tenison's School and the London Nautical School select the highest scoring applicants under each criterion.

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schools that can select pupils Archived 2 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine, ParentsCentre, Department for Children, Schools and Families.
  2. ^ School Admissions Glossary Archived 25 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Lincolnshire County Council.
  3. ^ Schools (Selection), House of Commons Hansard Debates, UK Parliament, 11 June 1996.
  4. ^ Debate on School Standards and Framework Bill, Clause 90 Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, House of Commons Standing Committee A, Tuesday 24 February 1998.
  5. ^ John Coldron; John Williams; Jane Fearon; Kathy Stephenson; Angela Logie; Nicola Smith (2001). Admission policies and practices of selective and partially selective schools in England. British Educational Research Association Annual Conference. Leeds.
  6. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Dec 1997, UK Parliament, 1997.
  7. ^ School Standards and Framework Act 1998, HMSO.
  8. ^ Anne West; Hazel Pennell (2002). "How new is New Labour? The quasi-market and English schools 1997 to 2001". British Journal of Educational Studies. LSE Research Online. 50 (2): 206–224. doi:10.1111/1467-8527.t01-2-00199. S2CID 144969664.
  9. ^ Admission by selection, Select Committee on Education and Skills Fourth Report (School admissions), UK Parliament, 14 July 2004.
  10. ^ Julie Henry (7 January 2007). "Sibling places are saved in selective intakes". Sunday Telegraph.[dead link]
  11. ^ a b School Admissions Code Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Department for Education and Skills, February 2007.
  12. ^ School Admissions Code Archived 19 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Department for Education and Skills, January 2009.
  13. ^ "Schools reported to selections watchdog". Watford Observer. 2 May 2007.
  14. ^ a b House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 8 Feb 2006 (pt 7) Archived 25 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, UK Parliament.
  15. ^ a b John Coldron; Emily Tanner; Steven Finch; Lucy Shipton; Claire Wolstenholme; Ben Willis; Sean Demack; Bernadette Stiell (31 January 2008). "Secondary School Admissions". Department for Children, Schools and Families Research Report DCSF-RR020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ "Admissions". King Edward VI Humanities College. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Information Guide 2012 Entry". The Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex.
  18. ^ "Secondary School Admissions". Torbay Borough Council. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011.
  19. ^ "A guide to secondary school education in Barnet". Barnet Borough Council. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Secondary schools". Croydon Borough Council. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  21. ^ "School Admissions: Related Documents". Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008.
  22. ^ "School admissions and transport". Hertfordshire County Council. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  23. ^ "Admission to Secondary School in Kent 2011" (PDF). Kent County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Schools admissions". Lambeth Borough Council. Archived from the original on 2 February 2008.
  25. ^ "Help with choosing a school". Liverpool City Council.
  26. ^ "Secondary School Admissions". Peterborough Borough Council. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  27. ^ "The Winston Churchill School".
  28. ^ "Transfer to Secondary School". London Borough of Sutton. Archived from the original on 15 January 2008.
  29. ^ "Choose a Wandsworth Secondary School". Wandsworth Borough Council.

External links[edit]