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White working-class pupils 'least likely to attend grammar schools'

12/12/2016 Joanna

A new study from the Sutton Trust has raised concerns about the lack of access to grammar school education among white working-class pupils.

The Gaps in Grammar research has shed light on the significant role that ethnic background plays in grammar school entry rates, with disadvantaged Indian pupils four times more likely than their disadvantaged white British counterparts to attend a grammar school, while disadvantaged Chinese pupils are 15 times as likely to gain entry to these schools.

Black pupils from poorer backgrounds were also shown to be significantly underrepresented, though it was noted that this group are now more than twice as likely to attend grammars as in 2012.

Overall, the country's poorest children are much less likely than any other pupils to attend a grammar school, even after taking location and prior attainment into account. Indeed, those who attend a preparatory school are around ten times more likely to get into a grammar school than a pupil on free school meals.

The report also indicated that families who are "just about managing" - a term coined by prime minister Theresa May to describe households on the financial borderline - are underrepresented in grammar school education, with non-disadvantaged children from poor areas substantially less likely to attend these schools than those from richer areas.

Responding to the findings, the Sutton Trust called on the government to make sure the admissions processes of existing grammar schools are fair and offer equal opportunity to all before any steps are taken to expand their capacity.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and the Sutton Trust, said: "Today's research tells us two new things: that underrepresentation is significantly higher for white and black working-class children than it is for those from Chinese and other Asian communities.

"We can also see that those from families who the prime minister is concerned are 'just-about-managing' are also much less likely to gain a place than their better-off classmates."
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