Selective education and social mobility

As it stands, roughly 3 per cent of pupils at existing grammar schools are eligible for free school meals (which is the most widely-used proxy to gauge social mobility at present) compared with about 18 per cent at other state-funded schools. This Centre for Social Justice report seeks to propose a well-designed selective education system to give children from deprived families the same educational opportunities as those from the wealthiest.

Four broad policy recommendations are offered in this paper. Firstly, targeted interventions which allow the Government to more effectively boost social mobility in those regions requiring more direction (what works in Kent won’t necessarily work in Carlisle). Secondly, an effective quota system which would allow schools struggling to target the most deprived families to do so. Thirdly, a comprehensive outreach programme on behalf of selective schools to primary schools would better consider the fact that the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils is often entrenched a long way prior to admission to secondary school. Finally, the Government should consider partial selection and grammar streams within schools which are not in themselves selective to mitigate some of the perceived and real difficulties of separate grammar schools.

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