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Grammar School Admission Policies are a Disgrace

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce plans to scrap the 1998 legislation which prevented the creation of new grammar schools.


The possibility of grammar school expansion has split opinion with the debate focusing on whether they will improve social mobility or not.

Those in favour believe they provide opportunities for bright pupils from less privileged backgrounds, while critics argue that they benefit the few at the expense of the majority.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, believes that existing grammar schools are far too socially selective. The charity found that just 3% of all grammar school pupils were eligible for free school meals, against an 18% average in other schools in the areas where they are located.


Four times as many children are admitted to grammar schools from outside the state school sector; largely fee-paying preparatory schools, which account for 6% of pupils. According to Sir Peter, this is a disgrace.

If grammar schools are expanded, Sir Peter thinks that there has to be a concerted effort to address their social selectivity through fairer admissions policies.


A few of the country’s 163 grammar schools are already implementing new systems. Some grammars are actively looking to recruit pupils from less advantaged backgrounds by changing their admissions policy to priorities pupils in receipt of free schools meals and who meet the threshold of their entrance tests.

Birmingham-based King Edward VI Foundation runs five grammar schools in the city and has set a slightly lower qualifying score for disadvantaged pupils.  Consequently they have doubled the number of disadvantaged pupils it admits.

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