Ben Rochelle cites Sutton Trust research on grammar schools in a blog for the Huffington Post.
The Department for Education (DfE) announced last week that it will provide £50million extra funding for England’s 163 surviving grammar schools with details of the remaining £150million to be announced later. This funding, however, is dependent on these schools setting out what action they will take to boost the number of disadvantaged pupils they admit.
Many MPs and commentators in the education space have criticised the decision. Kevin Courtney of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The grammar school corpse has climbed out of its coffin once again despite evidence of the damage that selective education causes.” But the reality is that this new policy, which places strict conditionality on current grammar schools expanding and rules out the creation of new schools, is far removed from Theresa May’s original vision which was to lift the ban on creating new grammar schools and allow existing comprehensive schools to become selective. This could have led to hundreds of new selective schools established across the country but the policy was dropped in the wake of last year’s election result.
Shadow education minister Angela Rayner has criticised the new plans as “absurd” and claims that grammars do nothing to drive social mobility. She probably has a point based on the ways in which grammar schools currently operate . According to the Sutton Trust, grammar schools admit four times as many children from fee-paying prep schools as children on free school meals, while research from the Department for Education shows that around 2.6 per cent of grammar school pupils are on free school meals, compared to 14.1 per cent across all school types.