White working class pupils least likely to attend grammars, research shows

Ethnic background plays a significant role in grammar school entry, with white working class pupils the least likely to attend, according to new analysis from the Sutton Trust.

The ‘Gaps in Grammar’ research brief found that disadvantaged Indian pupils were four times more likely to attend a grammar school than their disadvantaged white White peers, while disadvantaged Chinese pupils are fifteen times as likely.

Disadvantaged black pupils are now more than twice as likely to attend grammars as in 2012, but are still also significantly under-represented.

Using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children index, the Sutton Trusts’ researchers also found that, in selective areas, 34 per cent of pupils in grammars are from the richest fifth of neighbourhoods, compared with four per cent from the poorest fifth and 11 per cent from the second poorest fifth of neighbourhoods.

Additionally, the report advises that while grammar school pupils do score slightly higher at GCSE, much of this is explained by prior levels of attainment, meaning that bright pupils do just as well in the best comprehensives as they do in grammars.

In light of these findings, the Sutton Trust has raised ’serious concerns’ about using grammar schools in their current form as a vehicle for social mobility and is calling on the government to ‘make sure the he admissions processes of existing grammar schools are fair’, before their capacity is expanded.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and of the Sutton Trust, said: “We know that pupils from the poorest homes are significantly under-represented in grammar schools. Today’s research tells us two new things: that underrepresentation is significantly higher for white and black working class children than it is for those from Chinese and other Asian communities. We can also see that those from families who the Prime Minister is concerned about are ‘just-about-managing’ are also much less likely to gain a place than their better-off classmates.

“Today’s research raises concerns about the government’s plans to use new grammars as a vehicle for social mobility. We need to get existing grammars moving in the right direction before we consider expanding their number.”

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