In Brief

Grammar schools may not boost chances of good GCSEs

New study suggests that attending selective schools has ‘little impact’ on academic success

Placing your children in a selective school may not automatically improve their chances of obtaining high grades at GCSE level, according to new research.

The study by King’s College London suggests that the type of school children go to has “little impact” on their academic achievement. The discovery “undercuts the argument that grammar schools are necessary for the brightest pupils to reach their full academic potential,” says The Guardian.

The study, which was published in the npj Science of Learning journal, reveals that students at private and grammar schools scored around a GCSE grade higher across English, maths and science than their peers in state schools. But once cognitive ability, prior achievement and socio-economic status were taken into account, there was less than a 10th of a grade difference in their GCSE results.

“For educational achievement there appears to be little added benefit from attending selective schools,” the study says.

The research is based on analysis of over 4,000 students across England and Wales. It shows that the 7% difference in performance in GCSE results between selective schools and comprehensive schools can be almost entirely explained by differences in the pupils’ family incomes.

The study takes into account “polygenic scores”, which involve looking at genes linked to educational achievement.

According to AOL News, there are “thousands of genetic variants” linked to academic success that have “a tiny effect individually”. But when these are put together they can affect a student’s chances of doing well in exams.

In terms of polygenic scores, researchers say it’s too early to tell the impact of genetic factors on the difference between exam results in selective and non-selective schools.

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