Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date. We are currently writing new guidance to reflect the changes to the law.
In some circumstances, yes. All schools (including independent schools) should publish their admissions policy and explain how they decide which pupils to accept. For example, many schools have admissions policies that give preference to children whose older brothers and sisters have already attended the school.
Some secondary schools in England select wholly or partly on the grounds of academic ability, or ability in a particular subject area, such as music. In Scotland, there are six centres of excellence, which select according to ability in music, sport or dance. A school that is partly selective must not keep places empty if it does not have enough pupils of the required standard.
This does not apply to independent schools.No school is allowed to discriminate in their admission policies on the grounds of race. Co-educational schools are not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of sex. However, single sex schools are allowed to discriminate by admitting either boys or girls only.