Grammar schools widen gap between rich and poor

New study demonstrates long-term harm to those who miss out on places

Grammar schools contribute to social inequality and lead to a widening of the income gap between rich and poor, according to new research.

The study represents the starkest evidence yet of the long-term harm suffered by those who miss out on grammar school places – as well as of the impact of selective education on the communities where it has been preserved.

It found that in areas with a grammar school system, top earners are likely to earn £16.41 an hour more than those on the lowest incomes, or the equivalent of around £30,000 a year based on a typical 35-hour week.

In those areas where the education system was fully comprehensive, the salary gap was just £12.33 – a quarter less. High earners from grammar school areas were better off by £1.31 per hour on average than top earners born in similar comprehensive authorities.

Researchers from the University of Bristol, the University of Bath and the Institute of Education, University of London, who carried out the analysis said that failing to pass the 11-plus left pupils at an “immediate disadvantage” in terms of their future earnings.

The figures – which challenge claims that grammar schools help boost social mobility – were based on the average pay of the top and bottom 10 per cent of the workforce among a sample of 2,500 people born between 1961 and 1983. It found the lowest earners from areas with selective schools received significantly less than those in non-selective areas.

Professor Simon Burgess from the University of Bristol, who led the research, said the inequality could be explained by the quality of teaching.

“Selective schooling systems sort pupils based on their ability, and schools with high-ability pupils are more likely to attract and retain high-quality teaching staff,” Professor Burgess said.

“This puts pupils who miss out on a grammar school place at an immediate disadvantage. In addition they will be part of lower-ability peer groups, which also affects their chances of succeeding at school,” he added.

There are currently 164 English grammar schools which survived the drive towards comprehensive education in the 1960s and 70s. Kent boasts the highest number of grammar schools followed by Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, although there are significant numbers in Trafford, Birmingham and Essex. Nearly all London’s grammar schools were abolished, with those surviving confined to the outer boroughs.

Earlier this month more than half of grammar heads said they were preparing to revise admission procedures to increase the number of children from low-income families attending. Research by the Sutton Trust showed that just 2.7 per cent of places went to children receiving free school meals compared with 16 per cent in all secondary schools.

It followed growing criticism of the system, including by the Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw, who said grammar schools did nothing to promote social mobility, describing them being “stuffed full of middle-class kids”.

James Turner, director of programmes at the Sutton Trust, said: “Whatever your views on selection, grammar schools are a feature of our education system, so the priority must be to ensure they are opened up to bright pupils from low and middle-income backgrounds.”

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is a strong supporter of the schools which achieve the highest levels of academic success and are massively oversubscribed. However, he was forced to block attempts to establish the first new grammars in half a century in Kent last year following legal advice from civil servants.

For the study, a local education authority was defined as selective if more than 20 per cent of its 13-year-olds were assigned their school place by selection. The researchers found that, while average earnings in the areas were very similar, low-paid women in grammar school towns were worst remunerated – the legacy of a policy under which more girls than boys went to secondary modern schools, it was suggested. The researchers analysed information gathered by Understanding Society, a study following the lives of people in 40,000 UK households.

A 2013 study by academics from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the University of Cambridge and York University found that more than four times as many of the 22,000 Year Seven entrants into grammar schools each year were likely to come from private schools, compared with those on free school meals.

A recent Freedom of Information request showed that leading grammar schools receive 14 applications for each place. Such is the competition that schools have grown increasingly concerned over the use of coaches to help children to pass selection tests, forcing heads to introduce so-called “tutor-proof” exams. Critics such as Fiona Millar of the Local Schools Network, however, questioned whether this was possible.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Senior Research Fellow in Water and Resilient communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: Our team of leading academic...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistants...

Teaching Assistants in Peterborough

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teaching assistants required ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker