Grammar school students’ success ‘down to privilege,’ new reports finds
The apparent success of grammar schools compared to state schools can be attributed to the privilege of the students not the superiority of the institutions, a new report has found.
A study by Durham University found that once pupils’ higher ability and background had been factored in grammar schools performed no differently to their non-selective counterparts.
The Government has expressed its intention to increase the number of grammar school places, with the goal of raising educational standards.
But based on the report’s findings, its authors warn against more selective schools.
According to the study, England’s grammars fail to take on children from more deprived backgrounds, with only a tiny proportion of their intake eligible for free school meals.
Prof Stephen Gorard, from Durham's School of Education, said: "Dividing children into the most able and the rest from an early age does not appear to lead to better results for either group.
"This means that the kind of social segregation experienced by children in selective areas in England, and the damage to social cohesion that ensues, is for no clear gain.
"This is not to decry the schools that are currently grammars, or the work of their staff.
"However, the findings mean that grammar schools in England endanger social cohesion for no clear improvement in overall results. The policy is a bad one."
A Department for Education official said: "We want every child to receive a world-class education and to give parents greater choice when it comes to picking the school that's right for them - grammar schools are a part of this.
"Around 60% of these schools already prioritise admissions for disadvantaged children, and we are continuing to work closely with the school sector to widen access further.
"Research shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds make better progress across core subjects in selective schools, and attain better results."