PUPILS should be allocated a place at school by BALLOT - to stop middle-class parents forming enclaves around the "best" schools.

Radical steps should be taken to ensure school pupils are not segregated by class, according to thinktank The Sutton Trust.

Researchers said well-off parents should be deterred from snapping up pricey property around top performing schools.

These highly ranked state secondary schools in Scotland take just half the number of disadvantaged pupils as the national average, figures show.

Report 'Selective Comprehensives: Scotland' states the country has a "highly socially segregated school system", such as in Glasgow suburbs East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Getting a place at a good school is key to getting on in life.

"Yet the bottom line is that in Scotland your chances of doing that depends on your parents’ income and whether they can afford to live in an affluent area.

"This is why we want to see more use of ballots - where a proportion of places is allocated randomly – as well as a focus on improving the quality of teaching in all schools, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas."

The report looked at the top performing 70 state schools in Scotland - based on the proportion of pupils getting 4 A-C grades in their Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) level 5 qualifications.

This is the same benchmark used in the Evening Times' league tables from last week.

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Researchers from National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that just eight per cent of pupils at these schools are registered for free school meals, compared to 16 per cent of all pupils in Scotland.

While just over half - 57 per cent - of top schools take slightly fewer disadvantaged pupils than their catchment area, over a third - 39 per cent - take slightly more.

The Sutton Trust said that while the social backgrounds of pupils in Scottish schools tend to reflect the local area, the top performing schools are located in more affluent neighbourhoods.

According to the research, around four out of five top performing schools are ranked in the 40 per cent most affluent areas of the country, such as Williamwood High School in Clarkston and Bearsden Academy in Bearsden.

To improve access to the best schools in Scotland, the Sutton Trust would like to see changes to the admissions process that include considering the diversity of the school intake when drawing up boundaries for catchment areas.

In the longer term, the report recommends that the Scottish Government, local councils and schools consider a system with fewer incentives for middle class parents to buy homes in the catchment areas of top schools.

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Allocating a proportion of places randomly - such as half through a ballot system - could form a central part of this.

NFER Quantitative Research Director and co-author Jude Hillary from the National Foundation of Educational Research (NFER), said: "Our findings show that top performing schools in each nation have much lower rates of disadvantage compared to the average rate nationally.

"This matters as pupils admitted to these schools achieve the highest attainment outcomes, which enable them to access the best universities and potentially achieve the top labour market outcomes.

"In the interests of promoting greater social mobility, more needs to be done in these countries to increase the socio-economic diversity of the intakes of top performing schools."

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