Children from wealthier families more likely to secure grammar school places

The huge advantage rich families gain by using private tutors in the race for grammar school places.


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A new study by the UCL Institute of Education shows that private coaching implies understudies from high-wage families are considerably more prone to get into grammar schools than similarly brilliant students from low-wage families. It suggests that the great advantage rich families gain by using private tutors in the race for grammar school places.

Scientists looked at more than 1,800 children from grammar school areas in England and Northern Ireland. It found those from families in the bottom quarter of household incomes in England have less than a 10% chance of attending a grammar school. This compares to around a 40% chance for children in the top quarter of household incomes.

However high-wage families are additionally significantly more likely than low-salary families to utilize private mentors to ‘mentor’ their kid for the sentence structure school entrance test. Under 10% of kids from families with beneath normal salaries get training for the punctuation school entrance test. This thinks about to around 30% of youngsters from families in the best quarter of family salary.

By and large, around 70% of the individuals who got mentoring got into a punctuation school, contrasted with only 14% of the individuals who did not. This immense effect of mentoring keeps on holding even after an extensive variety of different elements (e.g. earlier accomplishment, school application choices) was considered.

The study evaluates the preferred standpoint picked up from instructing for the language school entrance test, infers that the administration must handle this issue before it permits existing punctuation schools to extend.

Professor John Jerrim said, “The government claims that expanding grammars will boost social mobility. But our research shows that private tuition used by high-income families gives them a big advantage in getting in. The government, therefore, needs to explain how they are going to level the playing field between different income groups.”

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Children from high-income families in England were 20 percentage points more likely to attend a grammar school than children from low-income families, even amongst those who had similar levels of academic achievement at age seven.
  • Families with the same level of income are much more likely to pay for private tutoring during primary school if they live in an area with a large number of grammar schools than if they live in areas without grammar schools.
  • An even stronger association between family income and grammar school attendance was found in Northern Ireland. Children from high-income families were 33 percentage points more likely to attend a grammar school than low-income children of equal academic ability.
  • Parents and teachers’ views of children’s academic potential during primary school did not explain why high-income children are more likely to attend a grammar school than their low-income peers.

The Nuffield Foundation’s Director of Education, Josh Hillman, said: “This research shows that when it comes to admissions to grammar schools, the extensive use of private tutoring heavily skews success to those from wealthier backgrounds.

“So expanding grammar schools would actually work against social mobility by perpetuating the current inequality in access, which leaves children from low and middle-income families severely underrepresented.

“Grammar schools are a contentious subject, so there is a vital role to play for independent funders like the Nuffield Foundation in ensuring that high-quality research evidence is available to inform policy decisions.”

Professor Jerrim added: “The proceeds could then be used to fund vouchers, to provide cheap or even free additional tutoring to children from lower-income backgrounds.”

“Why do so few low and middle-income children attend a grammar school? New evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study?” is the latest working paper to be published by the UCL IOE’s Department of Quantitative Social Science (QSS). It is available at


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