Sutton Trust research exposes PM's flawed social mobility drive
Children from ‘just about managing’ families are significantly less likely to go to grammar schools than wealthier children, new research finds, revealing a hole in the government’s social mobility drive.
Looking at areas where ten per cent or more of pupils attend state-run selective schools, the Sutton Trust charity today said wealthy families are twice as likely than ‘Jams’ to have children in selective schools.
Prime Minister Theresa May wants to lift the ban on opening or expanding grammar schools, saying: ‘In a true meritocracy, we should not be apologetic about stretching the most academically able to the very highest standards of excellence.’
Research by the Sutton Trust split families into five income groups, with the lowest two dubbed ‘Jams’ and the wealthiest in the top group.
Just 15.8 per cent of Year Seven pupils at selective schools were from Jam families, compared to 34.4 per cent from wealthy ones.
Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said:
“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.”
The Sutton Trust said its research suggested there are fewer low-income family pupils in selective schools, even when the children are of the same academic ability.
It called on the government to create a more equal playing field for grammar schools before they are expanded, with at least ten hours of exam preparation for all pupils to shrink the advantage of private tutoring for better off pupils.
Grammars should also employ positive discrimination for children eligible for the pupil premium and improve outreach work for disadvantaged families.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.