Grammar schools: does selection help social mobility?

n-burgessNuala Burgess is an ESRC-funded PhD student at King’s College London. Her PhD examines sixth form selective practices and the ways in which these shape the post-school choices of moderately attaining students, with a particular focus on the HE choosing of students who do not aspire to ‘elite’ universities.

The government plans of re-introducing the 11+ examination and the expansion of grammar schools has proved controversial – but does research provide any evidence about benefits from selective schools?
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Grammar lessons

Last year the government set out proposals to expand the number of grammar schools across England representing a significant shift in the education system. Such a change means costs and benefits, and there would be winners and losers writes Luke Sibieta, Programme Director of the Education and Skills sector at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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It does appear that those who attend grammar schools do, on average, somewhat better than similar children in the comprehensive system.

Grammar schools may thus be a way of improving the performance of very bright pupils. On the other hand, those in selective areas who don’t get into grammar schools do worse than they would in a comprehensive system. And as children from poorer families are significantly less likely to attend grammar schools, the expansion of grammar schools in the current form would seem more likely to reduce than increase social mobility. Continue reading