Grammar schools and selection

Arguments are constantly re-emerging that grammar schools provided, and provide, more opportunities for social mobility than comprehensives. This is solidly refuted in research commissioned for the Sutton Trust from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Cambridge and York Universities: Poor Grammar – entry in grammar schools for disadvantaged pupils in England (Cribb et al 2013)

Henry Stewart’s chapter Eleven grammar school myths, and the actual facts draws on solid evidence to refute common arguments such as:

  • Comprehensives have failed
  • The Grammar School system was popular in the 1950s and 60s
  • Grammar schools were a path to success for the poor
  • Grammar schools enable greater social mobility
  • Selective areas perform better than non-selective areas
  • The eleven-plus test has no permanent effect on those failing it.

(The chapter appears in The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Schools: a debate available free online from Civitas)

In an important chapter for the same book, Eddie Playfair challenges the major arguments behind selection and argues for an extension of the comprehensive principle into the college and university sector.

A summary of some key data is available from the NUT Edufacts Grammar Schools

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