Report Overview

Study from Durham University which is the most comprehensive review ever produced on the academic characteristics and social impacts of the remaining 164 grammar schools in England.


Key Findings


  • Only 17 of the England’s 100 most socially selective schools are grammar schools.
  • 54 of the 100 most socially selective schools are Voluntary Aided schools (in control of their own admissions policies), which make up 17 in 100 schools nationally; 54 out of the 100 are faith schools, compared with 18 in 100 nationally.
  • The five most socially selective schools in England have Free School Meal rates below 5%, despite rates of around 35% or higher in the local areas from which they draw pupils.
  • Comparing the test results of the schools’ intakes with other pupils in the same neighbourhoods, 50 non-grammar schools are more academically selective than the least academically selective grammar school in the country. Of these 50 non-grammar schools, almost half (24) are faith schools.
  • Considering the top quarter of academic performing pupils at age 11, in grammar schools just under 2% of these pupils are on Free School Meals, compared with 5.5% of high performing FSM pupils in non-selective schools.


  • Across England as a whole, one third of the wards in the country (33%) contain at least one pupil who attends one of England’s 164 remaining grammar schools.
  • 80 out of the country’s 150 Local Authorities have more than 1% of the pupils who live in their area attending grammar schools, compared with only 36 Local Authorities that actually have grammar schools.
  • 161 schools (5% of non-selective schools nationally) lose more than 20% of their
    potential pupils to grammar schools.
  • Schools that lose pupils to grammar schools are not performing academically any
    differently from other schools with similar characteristics.


  • On average pupils in grammar schools achieve between zero and three-quarters of GCSE grade per subject more than similar pupils in non-selective schools. Different values of this estimate arise from different, but equally plausible, statistical models and assumptions, so it is hard to be more precise than this.
  • The research suggests that grammar school students take subjects that are on average
    about a tenth of a GCSE grade harder than pupils in other schools.