Grammar school plans beneficial to just six areas in England, experts suggest

Expanding existing grammar schools is 'unlikely to improve social mobility' in the vast majority of areas

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Monday 12 December 2016 18:32
Comments
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to finish a three-month consultation on the expansion of grammar schools this week
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to finish a three-month consultation on the expansion of grammar schools this week

Plans to expand grammar schools in England would benefit just six of the 152 local authorities in England – less than four per cent of the country - new analysis has revealed.

An Education Policy Institute (EPI) report said the vast majority of local authorities would not pass the series of checks required for new grammar school to be placed or expanded on.

The think tank tested more than 32,800 districts against four criteria, which it called “consistent” with the “principles” laid out in the Government's “schools that work for everyone” consultation plans.

The extensive study found selective schools could be a harmful addition to areas where more than half of top performing pupils could access grammar school places.

The government has criticised the findings, however, labelling the report a "crude attempt" to second-guess the results of its consultation for new schools.

Just Solihull, Essex, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Northamptonshire and North Somerset could experience an attainment boost from grammar schools, according to the report.

Researchers concluded that if the Government wants to use the set of tests laid out by the institute, they will find creating new grammar school places challenging.

They added: “Expanding existing grammar schools is likely in a majority of such areas to reduce the average attainment of disadvantaged pupils and is therefore unlikely to improve social mobility.”

“A more promising approach in the most disadvantaged and low attaining areas may therefore be to focus on increasing the quality of existing non-selective school places.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Once again the Education Policy Institute have come up with the right questions about the Government's desire to increase grammar schools. The answers in their report must make uncomfortable reading for ministers.

”Faced with the overwhelming evidence, from international sources, from research and from the evidence of the current effects of selection in England, a government interested in evidence based policy would back off from a bad idea.“

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ”This report is highly speculative. We held a consultation to help us establish how we can create more good school places for children of all backgrounds by removing the ban on grammar schools and this report is a crude attempt to second guess what that consultation will conclude.

“Independent organisations have recognised the transformative impact grammar schools can have on the lives of disadvantaged young people.

”Our consultation closes on December 12 and we look forward to considering all the responses."

Additional reporting by PA

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