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Selective entry grammar schools do not provide a chance to achieve upward social mobility in the UK, according to research by Professor David Jesson from the Department of Economics in the University of York.

His findings, originally published in the British Education Research Association’s Journal – Research Intelligence, showed that, by using the conventional measure of disadvantage (those children eligible for free school meals), 2% of the children in grammar schools were “disadvantaged” in contrast to 12% of children in other schools in the same areas.


At present England has 164 grammar schools and Northern Ireland has 69. There are no grammar schools in Scotland or Wales

Graeme Paton, writing in the Daily Telegraph, quotes the Professor as accusing parents of “buying grammar places” and intimates that “thousands are enrolling young children in fee paying preparatory schools – where they enjoy smaller classes and more teacher attention – to maximise their chance of getting a free grammar school place at age 11.”

When asked why he felt that such a high proportion of preparatory school children gain these coveted places, even though the tests are designed to identify inherently bright children rather than those who have been coached, David Hanson, Chief Executive of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools (IAPS) responded: “The children’s success is the result of their teachers in prep schools providing a rich, diverse and well taught curriculum. Although it may appear to be counter intuitive, the time the children spend on the arts, music, languages and sport helps develop their skills to perform better in literacy and numeracy.”

Useful links:
Independent Association of Prep Schools –
National Grammar Schools Association –
British Education Research Association –