Schoolzone blog: Grammars may not work but parents love 'em

Grammars may not work but parents love 'em
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28 Nov 2014

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Post update 28 Nov 2014: A YouGov poll confirms that grammar school bashing is a vote loser - only 23% of voters are against them: not surprising, because voters are consumers of education and think about their own children above all else (at least they were encourged to do so in this poll) and who wouldn't want "the best" for their own children's education. If some future government is to tackle the inequality of grammar schools, they first need to convince voters to look at the bigger picture. No small feat.

Here's our previous post on this issue, which offers some arguments that politicians will need to put to voters...

We recently looked at the assertion that grammar schools are "good for social mobility" as various politicians (notably Tories and UKippers - if you'll pardon the vernacular) claim. We found that grammars have far fewer pupil premium students than do comprehensives, which rather undermines that claim.

Now, the Institute of Education have published a study that finds that grammar schools have been no more successful than comprehensives at helping to ensure their pupils gain a university degree or to graduate from an elite higher education institution.

It goes on to support our assertion above, in finding that a grammar school education also does not appear to have increased working-class pupils’ chances of getting a degree.

This is very serious research - following the education history of over 7,700 people since the 1970s. It finds that, while it appears that grammar school students do better at HE, in fact those doing well at primary school and the social background of their parents, has a far bigger impact.

The study, which will be published by the Oxford Review of Education next month, also highlights the huge advantage associated with a private school education. Being bright is not necessarily enough to get a degree from a top university, the report finds. "The advantages of a private education applied even when we took exam results into account," according to Professor Alice Sullivan of the IOE, the study’s lead author. Of course we already know plenty about the injustices of the private education system - even Michael Gove lamented that one. Some might say that parents pay for education in order to achieve that injustice.

This is very timely research - conducted, if you're thinking there might be a fishy reason for its coming out now, before the recent re-opening of the debate. We've already reported on the spread of grammars which has been allowed under the academisation process and it seems very likely that, for all the illegality of new grammars, existing ones can spread as and when they see fit. This research reminds us, should we need a reminder, that this is not good for education or for society.





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