Grammars help more black pupils aim high
Grammar schools are sending more black and minority ethnic students to Cambridge than all the other state schools in the country combined, analysis suggests. A report from the Higher Education Policy Institute examining the impact of selective schooling found that children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households were more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they lived in an area with grammar schools.
GRAMMAR schools are sending more black and minority ethnic (BME) students to Cambridge University than all the other state schools in the country combined, analysis reveals.
Children from the most disadvantaged 20 per cent of households are more than twice as likely to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge if they live in an area with grammar schools, according to the report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi).
The paper examined the impact of selective schooling on state-educated pupils’ progression to top universities.
Iain Mansfield, a former senior civil servant who wrote the report, said the figures were a “shocking indictment” on the country’s 1,849 comprehensive schools.
His analysis found that BME pupils were more than five times as likely to progress to Oxford or Cambridge if they lived in a selective rather than non-selective area.
More than a third (39 per cent) of pupils in grammar school areas progressed to prestigious universities, compared with just 23 per cent in comprehensive areas. The report analysed the background of Cambridge students over the past three years and found that grammar schools sent 486, compared with 362 from comprehensives.
“Astonishingly, 163 grammar schools sent over 30 per cent more BME entrants to Cambridge than the nearly 2,000 non-selective schools combined,” the report stated.
“With more than three quarters of the country having no grammar schools, these figures represent a shocking indictment of the comprehensive system.”
Figures for Oxford were unavailable because the university did not collect the relevant information, but the analysis was likely to be “broadly applicable” to both universities.
Mr Mansfield said much of the previous research into grammar schools and social mobility had focused on eligibility for free school meals (FSM).
A report published last year by the campaign group Comprehensive Future claimed that just 4.5 per cent of grammar school places went to FSM
‘These figures from grammar schools represent a shocking indictment of the comprehensive system’
children. But the Hepi paper said using FSM obscured large differences within the other 85 per cent of the population.
Mr Mansfield argued that grammar schools had a “socially diverse range of pupils”, with 45 per cent coming from families with income levels below the median. He said the figures clearly undermined the claim that grammar schools were “just for the rich”, adding this “simply isn’t true”.
However, Dr Lindsey Macmillan, a reader in economics at University College London, and Dr Matt Dickson, from Bath University, urged caution.
“The areas that chose to keep grammar schools … are generally more affluent with a higher proportion of degree-educated people,” they said. “These are precisely the characteristics that support access to elite universities.”