The increasing academisation of secondary schools has led to a raft of complex admissions processes that disadvantage the poorest families and perpetuate social division.

Research from the University of Bristol (Burgess et al, 2023) finds that only 5% of secondary schools prioritise disadvantaged pupils in their admissions policies, whereas the prioritisation of geographical location by the vast majority of schools creates significant scope for "indirect selection".

Published on Wednesday (March 1) – the day parents discovered which secondary school their children can attend – the report warns that entry rules are undermining social mobility.

The problem comes as more than 90% of around 3,250 secondary schools can now set their own admissions criteria. This includes foundation and voluntary-aided schools although the bulk is made up by the 80% of secondary schools that now hold academy status.

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