Poor children do worse in areas that have grammar schools

14 September 2016
What was claimed

Pupils on free school meals do far worse in GCSEs in selective Kent compared to non-selective London.

Our verdict

Correct, although London is well ahead of the rest of England as well.

“The evidence, Mr Speaker, of the effects of selection is this. In Kent, which has a grammar school system, 27% of the pupils on free school meals get 5 good GCSEs, compared with 45% in London.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 14 September 2016

This is correct. In 2014/15, 46% of pupils in London known to be eligible for free school meals got between a C and an A* in five or more GCSE subjects, including maths and English.

In Kent, it was 27%.

There aren’t many grammar schools in London, whereas Kent is one of the few areas of the country to have a selective system.

But London outperforms the rest of England as a whole when it comes to the exam results of free school meals pupils—not just selective Kent. Across English regions outside of London, 30% get 5 good GCSEs, not much higher than Kent.

That doesn’t take away from the argument as a whole. In Kent and neighbouring Medway, “poorer children lag further behind, richer children move further ahead” than both London and the rest of England, as research by Chris Cook for the BBC has shown.

Children eligible for free school meals are far less likely to get into grammar schools in the first place.

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