Grammar schools to give priority to poorer children


The Department for Education has confirmed that it has given permission for 30 grammar schools to change their admission procedures to give priority to poorer children, and  58 more are considering a similar change.

The Sutton Trust, which campaigns for fairer admissions, has welcomed the move. James Turner, Sutton Trust director of programmes, said it was an important step forward and hoped it would help with some of the access issues it had identified.

Last year a report by the charity argued for an end to a culture of coaching pupils for 11-plus tests so that poor bright children are not excluded from grammar schools.

The report, Poor Grammar: Entry into Grammar Schools for Disadvantaged Pupils in England, said pupils from very low income families are outnumbered by four to one in grammar schools by children from fee-paying prep schools.

It found only 2.7% of grammar school entrants were from families who qualified for free school meals, while 12.7% came from outside England's state sector - mainly independent schools. Overall in England about 20% of pupils are on free school meals.

The report also suggested that many parents were using the private preparatory school route to get their children through grammar school doors.

Those on lower incomes are less likely to be able to afford to pay for tutoring or private education.

The report said tests should be changed regularly so that they are tutor proof and urged grammar schools to offer test preparation classes to all candidates.

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