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The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

The Impact of Selective Secondary Education on Progression to Higher Education

  • 10 January 2019
  • By Iain Mansfield
  • HEPI number Occasional Paper 19

Most previous research on grammar schools has focused narrowly on eligibility for Free School Meals as a measure of disadvantage. But with 45% of pupils at grammar schools coming from families with below median incomes, a broader consideration of the impact of grammar schools on social mobility is necessary. The evidence suggests that grammar schools can increase the likelihood of progression to highly-selective higher education for pupils from some traditionally disadvantaged groups, including pupils in the most disadvantaged two quintiles of social disadvantage and pupils with Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BME).

This report considers the impact of grammar schools on progression to higher education, considering various groups of pupils and focusing particularly on progression to highly-selective education and to Oxbridge. It considers both the chance of getting into a grammar school and the relative rates of progression, to compare the opportunities of pupils in selective and non-selective areas. It also assesses the impact of the new specialist Maths schools and explores attitudes to grammar school expansion across different socio-economic classes.

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