Grammar Schools: Social Mobility

Department for Education written question – answered on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the number of grammar schools on levels of social mobility.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Grammar schools are popular and oversubscribed. 98% of grammar schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted; 84% are rated outstanding.

Research shows that disadvantaged children attending grammar schools gain the greatest benefit in terms of their attainment.[1]

The Selective Schools Expansion Fund will fund selective school expansion only if there is a need for places and the schools have deliverable and ambitious plans in place to admit more disadvantaged pupils. Previous administrations permitted selective schools to expand without placing any requirements upon them to admit more disadvantaged children. Sixteen grammar schools have successfully secured funding to expand via the SSEF and a second bidding round has been launched.

In order to promote greater social mobility, the Department has also agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Grammar School Heads Association under the terms of which the Association has agreed to work with its members to increase the number of disadvantaged pupils on roll.

[1] Atkinson and Gregg ‘Who Benefits from Grammar Schools’ 2004 ( ‘Poor pupils who make it into grammar schools do exceptionally well, getting nearly eight grade points more – equivalent to eight GCSEs being raised from a C to a B. Those not attending grammar schools do no worse than their peers in non-selective LEAs. It is clear from this that selection does indeed work in favour of bright pupils from poor backgrounds’. Jon Andrews, Jo Hutchinson and Rebecca Johnes (2016), also found that ‘for children entitled to free school meals and attending grammar schools the estimated effect is larger than for non-FSM children – at around half a grade higher in each of eight GCSEs. However, it is important to note that this is based on just 500 grammar school pupils out of almost 90,000 FSM pupils in any single year group’ ‘Grammar schools and social mobility’, (Education Policy Institute) (

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