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JRF - Bringing back grammar schools won’t increase opportunity for those who need it most

Helen Barnard, Head of Analysis at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Expanding grammar schools is a step backwards away from the goal of extending opportunities for all and build a fairer Britain.

“There are really important things the Government can do to improve the prospects of children in low income families, such as closing the attainment gap, but increasing selection will not achieve that goal. 

“All the evidence shows that children who don’t get in to grammar schools do worse than similar children in non-selective areas, and it’s very difficult to visualise a selective system which does not harm the prospects of children who do not get in. 

“To really make a difference to the life chances of lower income children, we must stop poverty in its tracks: a child born into poverty falls behind a richer peer by the age three, a gap that widens with age. A selection test at age 11 for grammar school will do very little to break this cycle. What matters is what happens inside schools to help poorer children catch up and achieve their potential.

“Bringing back grammar schools may be popular with some, but it won’t increase opportunity for those who need it most. We need a serious plan to improve opportunities for all, not a retrograde step to a policy proven to reduce social mobility.

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