Partially selective school (England)

Partially selective school (England)

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. [ [ Schools that can select pupils] , ParentsCentre, Department for Children, Schools and Families.] 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. [ [ School Admissions Glossary] , Lincolnshire County Council.] 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. [ [ Schools (Selection)] , House of Commons Hansard Debates, UK Parliament, 11 Jun 1996.] 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. [ [ Debate on School Standards and Framework Bill, Clause 90] ,House of Commons Standing Committee A,Tuesday 24 February 1998.] [cite conference
author = John Coldron
coauthors = John Williams, Jane Fearon, Kathy Stephenson, Angela Logie and Nicola Smith
title = Admission policies and practices of selective and partially selective schools in England
booktitle = British Educational Research Association Annual Conference
location = Leeds
year = 2001
url =

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:

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). [ [ School Standards and Framework Act 1998] , HMSO.] 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. [cite web
author = Anne West
author2 = Hazel Pennell
title = How new is New Labour? The quasi-market and English schools 1997 to 2001
publisher = LSE Research Online
year = 2002
url =
] [ [ Admission by selection] , [ Select Committee on Education and Skills Fourth Report (School admissions)] , UK Parliament, 14 July 2004.]

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." [cite news
author = Julie Henry
title = Sibling places are saved in selective intakes
work = Sunday Telegraph
date = 2007-01-07
url =
] [ School Admissions Code] , Department for Education and Skills, February 2007.] This phrase must by interpreted by adjudicators considering objections, but has not yet been tested.

A late amendment to the Education and Inspections Act 2006 amended the 1998 Act to require that the proportion selected be no higher than at any time since 1997.This forced four Hertfordshire schools to lower their proportion of academic selection to 25%. [cite news
title = Schools reported to selections watchdog
work = Watford Observer
date = 2007-05-02
url =

Partial selection today

The following bilateral schools continue to operate in surviving fully selective areas: [ House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 8 Feb 2006 (pt 7)] , UK Parliament.] cite paper
title = Secondary School Admissions
author = John Coldron
coauthors = Emily Tanner, Steven Finch, Lucy Shipton, Claire Wolstenholme, Ben Willis, Sean Demack and Bernadette Stiell
publisher = Department for Children, Schools and Families Research Report DCSF-RR020
date = 2008-01-31
url =

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.

The following schools retain partial selection introduced between 1993 and 1997:

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

ee also

* Education in England

References and notes

External links

* [ Office of the Schools Adjudicator]

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