There are only six areas in England where parents would welcome new grammar schools and creating them would benefit the wider school population, a study says.
The BBC reports that The Education Policy Institute modelled the impact of government plans to expand selective schools by looking at how 32,844 districts would be affected. The think tank applied the government’s conditions for allowing new schools.
The government called the study “a crude attempt to second-guess the results of its consultation on new schools.”
The researchers constructed a set of tests mirroring the conditions for new grammars set out in the government’s White Paper, Schools that Work for Everyone.
These were that they:
- Should not be to the detriment of pupils who miss out.
- Need to be in areas where there are sufficient numbers of pupils who could attend.
- Should not undermine existing high-performing schools.
- Are only in areas where parents want them.
Upon applying the government’s criteria, only a fifth of prospective areas were left as good candidates for new grammar schools
When these areas were cross-referenced with the 37 local authority areas which expressed strong support for new grammars in a recent YouGov poll, just six areas remained.
These were Solihull, Essex, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Northamptonshire and North Somerset, all of which have fewer disadvantaged pupils than the national average.
The study added that expansion principles would be met only in parts of each local authority area and stated in its findings that:
“We therefore conclude that it will be difficult for the government to identify areas for grammar school expansion that will avoid damage to pupils who do not access the new selective places, where there is public demand for new selective places and high disadvantage.”
The EPI’s chairman, David Laws, said his organisation’s analysis showed that the provision of additional grammar school places in England was unlikely to bolster social mobility effectively, commenting:
“The additional analysis that we have now published highlights further significant challenges which face the government if ministers decide to press on with these proposals.”