Mossbourne academy in Hackney, east London, is one of eight academies and 13
other state schools operating their own banded admissions systems.
The aim is to ensure they admit pupils across the ability range. Since it
opened in 2004 Mossbourne has admitted equal numbers of pupils in four abili More…ty
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the headteacher, said: "If you are going to call yourself
a comprehensive, and we are, you have got to have that balance."
First preference is given to pupils with statements of special need - last year
there were 11. Then the results of cognitive ability tests taken by all
applicants, placing them in one of four bands, come into play. It is only after
the academy has ensured it has equal numbers from each band that other criteria
- pupils' proximity to the school, for 60 per cent of places, and their
distance from another secular, mixed secondary, for the other 40 per cent - are
"Banding means you have got a good spread of ability. It means the more able
children can help the less able and you are reflecting the nature of the
community you serve," said Sir Michael.
Last year Mossbourne had 1,200 applicants for 180 places and Sir Michael warned
that banding would not work in under-subscribed schools. But he said it tended
to mean a good social mix which benefited the school.
Peter Crook, head of Peckham academy, says his system, which uses five ability
bands, means his school has a lower ability profile. "I don't think it benefits
the school in any way," he said. "It has been adopted for reasons of
transparency and fairness and I would challenge other schools to do the
The Bill should make it easier for schools to do so by removing the need for
them to publish statutory proposals when making the change.