Poor pupils still missing out on grammar school, research shows

Children from cash-strapped families are still unlikely to win a place at a quarter of England’s grammar schools, research shows. Less than five percent of pupils were eligible for premium support – linked to free school meals and used as a measure of disadvantage – in 25 percent of 160 elite state schools.

Only 13 of 3,000-plus other state secondary schools have such a low level of pupils from the most deprived families, analysis by the BBC found.

Out of the 160 grammar schools, 113 now have quotas or give high priority to disadvantaged children.

However, despite grammar schools coming under increasing pressure to open their admissions policies to benefit underprivileged children, the impact is patchy.

The King Edward VI grammar schools in Birmingham are among the few to have achieved radical changes, by introducing a quota of 25 percent of places for pupils from the lowest-income families.

The schools now more fairly represent the local communities they serve, according to Jodh Dhesi, the chief executive of the King Edward VI Foundation. He said: “That’s what grammar schools should be about.

“They should be an academic elite, that’s why they’re there – but not a social elite.”

Grammars educate just five percent of secondary pupils in England, but research shows their existence in a local area affects more than just the pupils who go there.

For every grammar school pupil, about three more go to nearby secondaries.

There is evidence that those children do less well at GCSE level than pupils in areas where there are only comprehensive schools.

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