MPs cast doubt over grammars ability for social mobility

The Education Select Committee has published a report outlining that the government has not made an adequate case for opening a new wave of grammar schools, including its claim that the schools could further social mobility.

In its report the committee called for a thorough assessment of the impact of introducing new grammar schools. In particular, the MPs highlighted that there should be an ‘assessment on the impact on the wider school system, given the potential consequences for school funding, the supply of teachers, and the overall health of schools in England from expanding selective education.

It urged that the government should also set out how new grammar schools will help close the attainment gap within the wider school system, rather than just for individual pupils.

Part of the report included evidence from a panel of academics and policy experts who expressed scepticism at the influence of grammar schools in the improving attainment of pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Neil Carmichael, chair of the Education Committee, said: "The government has yet to prove the case for opening a new wave of grammar schools. The Prime Minister rightly talks of making Britain a great meritocracy. If the government wants to push ahead with new grammar schools it must demonstrate how this aids social mobility and improves educational outcomes for all, most especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The focus on opening new grammar schools is, in my view, an unnecessary distraction from the need to ensure all our young people are equipped with the skills to compete in the modern workplace. A broadly skilled workforce is crucial to the future success of the UK economy. If the government is committed to increased specialisation in our education system then they should spell out how this meets the aims of the Industrial Strategy and the goal of an economy that works for all."