Grammar schools – the 'evidence check'

The House of Commons Education Select Committee published a report of its ‘evidence check’, scrutinising the government’s proposals on selective (grammar) schools. The chair of the committee, Neil Carmichael MP, said: “The Government has yet to prove the case for opening a new wave of grammar schools… if the Government wants to push ahead with new grammar schools it must demonstrate how this aids social mobility and improves educational outcomes for all, most especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds”.

The report recognises that the proposals “differ significantly from the characteristics of grammar schools past and present” and puts forward a number of recommendations:

  • the government should demonstrate how its proposals will meet the economy’s need for a broadly skilled workforce
  • the government “must demonstrate how the creation of new grammar schools will help close the attainment gap within the wider school system, not just for individual pupils”
  • wider socio-economic issues should be taken into account when comparing pupils at selective and non-selective schools
  • admissions to grammar schools should not be based purely on selection tests
  • the government should publish a thorough assessment of the impact of its proposals, for example consequences for school funding, teacher supply, and “the overall health of schools in England”

Minister Nick Gibb has appeared to reaffirm the government’s commitment to expanding the number of grammar school places in England, stating that “the demand is there” and that the Department for Education is “looking forward to setting out the next stage of our proposals”.