Councillors have agreed a proposal to consult publicly on a change that would give pupils eligible for free school meals some priority at the city’s community secondary schools when school places in the city are allocated in future.
The average percentage of secondary pupils on free school meals across the city is 25%. This is expected to rise to 28% in 2025.
But within this statistic there is currently a large variation in the percentages of pupils eligible for free school meals at individual schools.
Some schools take well above the average percentage of children on free school meals and some schools well below the average.
The proposal is to create a new secondary school admissions priority for children on free school meals. This would enable some of the city’s most disadvantaged pupils a greater choice of secondary school.
Schools would not be expected to admit more free school meal pupils than the average percentage across the city.
The co-chair of the council’s Children, Families and Schools committee, Councillor Jacob Taylor, said: “By definition, children who are eligible for free school meals come from relatively economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We think giving them an element of priority when applying for secondary school places could be a big step forward in terms of creating a more fair and equal city.
“Brighton & Hove prides itself on being an inclusive city - but there are huge and stubborn levels of inequality in our city.
“We believe our proposals would improve outcomes across the city as a whole.”
Councils have to consult on their school admissions rules every year when changes are proposed. Government rules mean these have to be agreed 18 months before they take effect.
This means that the proposed consultation is to decide on priorities that would take effect in September 2025.
The public consultation on the city’s admissions priorities will include the free school meals proposal.
It will take place during November and December, with councillors considering the results of the consultation at a meeting in January.