12 November 2013:
Research by The Sutton Trust, an organisation that seeks to improve education through social mobility, has led to criticism of selective schools and their impact on social mobility.
Previous figures from the Department for Education found that in 2012, only 1.9% of primary school children on Free School Meals (FSM) go on to grammar school, compared with the national average of 16%. The Sutton Trust’s report, Access to Grammar Schools for Disadvantaged Pupils, looked into the reasons why this is happening.
Headteachers questioned said that they feel that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have lower educational aspirations in general. Parents on lower incomes are less likely to put their children, who may be more than talented enough to attend grammar school, forward for exams and, if they do, cannot afford the private tuition that coaches many wealthier children through the entrance tests. There is also something of a location influence; children may feel displaced from their friends and communities if sent to a grammar school further afield.
Opponents of grammar schools say they are socially divisive. The Sutton Trust have made several recommendations:
1. Primary schools should enter all pupils who are bright enough not just those who they think will ‘fit in’
2. A review of the current testing system – which is has been criticised for being easily coachable
3. Free or subsidised coaching to pupils from poorer backgrounds
4. Overhaul of the admission policies
Children who go to grammar school are more likely to go onto university. But neither education in a comprehensive school nor a lower income background should prevent young people from achieving their full potential. The Bridge Builders Mentoring Scheme provides mentors and essential skills workshops to boys on FSM, to motivate them and develop their aspirations and employability. Call today on 0333 200 4703 to discuss how we can help your school or youth organisation.