Selective Education – does it work?

Whilst little has been done to progress the idea in this parliament thus far, it officially remains government policy to reintroduce forms of selective education or grammar schools as they’re perhaps better known.

In most of Britain, selective education was abandoned in the 60’s but some regions do still have selective schools within the state school framework. Whilst there is no doubt that these schools perform better than their comprehensive counterparts, there is perhaps an obvious reason – they select the ablest pupils based on exam performance.

The idea behind selective education is that it allows you to categorise pupils and route them to a school, college or academy which most suits their needs, thus allowing them to flourish. Sounds good in practice, but previously this led to a two-tier education system and this remains the concern; the evidence that grammar school attendees do better than they would in a non-selective school is limited, but what is clear is that those who attend the less prestigious comprehensives do worse.

Grammar schools also run the risk of embedding social exclusions from an early age; statistically, the children from wealthier families are more likely to gain places, whereas poorer families – who can’t avoid paying for extra tuition – struggle.