Few pupils are both at grammar schools and on free school meals

19 October 2016
What was claimed

Pupils who both attend grammar schools and are entitled to free school meals represent one out of every thousand pupils generally.

Our verdict


“Just one in every thousand pupils is a child on free school meals in a grammar school”.

Lucy Powell MP, 19 October 2016

It’s worth studying this claim carefully. Ms Powell isn’t saying that only one in every 1,000 grammar school pupils is on free school meals. She’s saying that for every pupil who’s both on free school meals and in a grammar school, there are 999 who aren’t.

That’s correct.

There are around 3.2 million children at state secondary schools in England as of January 2016, according to official statistics.

Around 170,000or 50 in every 1,000—is a grammar school pupil. The government says that 2.5% of these children are entitled to free school meals.

That’s around 4,000 children out of 3.2 million, or 0.001%.

The government says that it wants to look also at “the wider impact of selective education of those on low incomes or who just about manage”—not just the very poorest children. So it’s not only interested in students entitled to free school meals.

We’ve covered the evidence on grammar schools and free school meals pupils in more detail here.

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