Grammar schools 'unlikely to boost standards or social mobility'

Posted On: 
23rd September 2016

Introducing more grammar schools is not likely to either raise overall educational standards or boost social mobility, new analysis backed by a former education minister suggests. 

The report found little evidence that grammar schools improve overall standards

The findings will give further ammunition to opponents of lifting the ban on new grammar schools, a proposal unveiled by Education Secretary Justine Greening last week.

The plans face opposition not only from Labour, but also from a number of Tories including former education secretary Nicky Morgan.

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The report from the Education Policy Institute, chaired by former Lib Dem education minister David Laws, found that comprehensive school pupils in areas with grammar schools do worse compared with children of similar ability in areas without grammars.

Although the effect was small, at only an average of one tenth of a grade per GCSE subject, it was twice as pronounced among the poorest pupils. 

The researchers also found there was a 'grammar school bonus' whereby children who pass the 11+ exam score a third of a grade higher on average than able children in comprehensives. 

However they concluded that the advantage of going to a selective school diminishes in areas where there is a higher proportion of grammar schools.

“It is clear from our analysis that creating additional grammar schools is unlikely to lead to either a significant improvement in overall education standards or an increase in social mobility," Mr Laws said.

“Indeed, without far more success in getting poor children into grammar schools, the total attainment gaps between poor children and richer children could well increase.”