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Media pounces on 'social segregation' in academy schools

Journalists love stories about social divides - especially when there is academic research to support the claims.

So it was inevitable that publication of the Academies Commission's new report (10th January 2013) into the UK's school academy boom - 'Unleashing Greatness: Getting the best from an academised system' - stirred up interesting media coverage.

Academies (click here for Q & A) were introduced by Labour but have grown in numbers under the coalition government from 203 (May 2010) to 1,807 (May 2012), 2,309 (September 2012) and 2,456 (November 2012).

The lengthy report states how the 'new educational landscape has developed with astonishing speed' introducing 'much-needed vitality' to the school system. It also recognises some 'stunning successes' - yet it is relatively obscure social segregation line that topped the news agendas. 

The BBC report grabs attention with a 'covert selection' line about background checks on prospective parents and schools holding auditions to ensure parents (and presumably their offspring) are of the right pedigree. I'm exaggerating. A bit.

The Guardian also goes big on the alleged manipulation of admissions while Tom Clark provides a more grounded analysis.

There is clearly a risk of admissions being fiddled and it could be argued that publicising the danger now it may prevent it becoming an accepted practice.

In response to their findings, the Academies Commission's report says: "In the interests of demonstrating fairness and accessibility, the commission believes that each academy should publish comprehensive data, including socio-economic data, about who applies to it and who is admitted."

You can download the full Academies Commission report here .

Posted by Peter Harvey: Thursday 10th January 2013