In Brief

Grammar schools ‘no better than other schools’, says study

Researchers warn that grammar schools ‘create social segregation for no clear gain’

Grammar schools in the UK “do no better in terms of pupil achievement than other schools”, according to a new study.

Researchers at Durham University have found that pupils at selective schools have a “similar level of achievement to their equivalent peers at non-selective schools”, once factors such as socio-economic background and previous educational attainment are taken into account, ITV reports.

The academic records of 549,203 pupils across England were analysed for the study.

It found grammar schools took only 2% of children eligible for free school meals, compared to 14% nationally, which means comprehensive schools in the same areas are taking on disproportionately more poorer students.

Furthermore, the study showed that grammar school pupils are less likely to have special educational needs, less likely to speak English as an additional language and more likely to live in wealthy areas.

Although on paper grammar school pupils get higher average GCSE grades than non-selective school students, the study claims that grammar school pupils perform similarly to other students once factors such as wealth are taken into account.

Plans to increase the number of grammar schools in England were abandoned last year after Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority in the general election, “but the new Education Secretary Damian Hinds has indicated he will allow existing grammars to expand”, writes iNews.

Professor Stephen Gorard, of Durham’s School of Education, said: “The progress made by grammar school students is the same as progress made by equivalent children who do not go to grammar school, on average.”

He also 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.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, also reveals that pupils from certain ethnic backgrounds - particularly Chinese, Pakistani and Bangladeshi - make up a larger percentage of grammar school students than they do of those at other schools.

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