A new study by researchers from the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) shows that Grammar school pupils do not gain any advantage over children who do not attend a grammar school by age 14. In the first study of its kind, researchers looked at a range of social and emotional outcomes, including young people’s engagement and well-being at school, their aspirations for the future, in addition to educational attainment levels, to determine the benefits of attending a grammar school. After comparing how grammar and non-grammar school pupils faired across a range of cognitive, social and emotional outcomes, researchers found attending a grammar school had no positive impact upon teenagers’ attitudes towards schools, self-esteem, future aspirations or their English vocabulary.

“Our findings suggest that the money the government is planning to spend on grammar school expansion is unlikely to bring benefits for young people. Even those children who are likely to fill these new places are unlikely to be happier, more engaged at school or have higher levels of academic achievement by the end of Year 9,” said lead author of the study, Professor John Jerrim

Melissa Benn, chair of Comprehensive Future, said, “This is only the most recent of a string of academic studies released this year which show up the reality of the 11 plus. We have long known that selective education damages the chances and self-esteem of young people who are told they are not up to the mark – literally – before they have even reached the age of 11.”

“This UCL/IOE study illuminates another important aspect of the issue: the way in which selective schools add little or no value to young peoples’ educational, social and emotional development.”

“How long can the government continue to ignore the evidence? Will it now call a halt to its often sneaky plans for expansion of selective education? And when will we see a national politician brave enough to act on the now formidable body of evidence and advocate the opening up of all existing grammars to all children?”

The researchers will be continuing to investigate socio-emotional outcomes for children in grammar and non-grammar school areas and build on recent findings showing that grammar schools are no better or worse than non-selective state schools in terms of attainment, but can be damaging to social mobility.