Grammar expansion: An elitist policy...

The £50m a year for grammar school expansion should be made available to all children, not just the lucky few, says Nick Brook

The other day I was invited onto a radio phone-in to talk about grammar schools.

“What’s your problem?” the host asked, “I went to grammar school and it worked for me.”

And there, the fundamental problem of this policy was laid bare. The proposed expansion of grammar schools is not an initiative based in evidence. It is an initiative driven by the prime minister on the basis of “it worked for me, so let’s do it for everyone”. In research terms, that’s a sample size of one. Hardly scientific.

Without question, overall grammar schools provide a good standard of education for those lucky enough to attend them: 97 per cent of pupils attending grammars achieve good GCSE results. Taken on its own, these figures are impressive. However, dig a little deeper and research has shown that this high performance is driven by the very high prior attainment of pupils and the demographics of their families. Put simply, bright children from reasonably well-off families tend to do very well at school, whatever type of school they go to. It’s not such a revelation.

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