End academic selection


End academic selection

Selection at the age of 10 splits students between grammar schools and secondary moderns rather than pupils going to comprehensive schools which take all students. This split is decided by the 11+ test which is a set of exams often taken at the age of 10, in Northern Ireland this is known as the transfer test. We support moving to a comprehensive system for the 163 grammar schools remaining in England and the grammar school system in Northern Ireland. This would also convert existing secondary moderns into real comprehensives with comprehensive intakes and it would end the 11+ test within the UK.


UK secondary modern and grammar schools (1)

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Gap between the number of students with Special Educational Needs in grammar schools compared to comprehensives (2)

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Gap between the number of students on free school meals in grammar schools compared to comprehensives (3)

The new policy

Its time to end selection and to replace it with a fairer system.

Academic selection at the age of 10 doesn't work

Selection splits students by wealth with those who can afford tutoring or private schooling being more likely to get in. Students with disabilities are also often less likely to get into grammar schools. On top of all of this, the age of 10 is simply too young to split students up.

A comprehensive future

We would change the rules for grammar schools and comprehensives so they accept students without a test. Instead they should use a lottery system which is a fairer way to give school places to students.

Learning from other countries

Finland ended its system of grammar schools and civic schools, their version of secondary moderns, in 1977. Instead all students went to comprehensive schools. Since then it went on to score exceptionally well in PISA tests which rank diffrent countries education systems. It also improved test scores since the introduction of the new system.

Our video on ending selection

Why we need to end selection

We know there are issues with separating students at this age and using the 11+ test. Students often end up being more likely to fail the test if they are on Free School Meals, or have additional needs.

Your questions answered

The evidence shows that getting into grammar school is heavily based on your families wealth.

It's far harder for students who are already disadvantaged in the education system with both students on free school meals and those with additional needs less likely to get in. A BBC report in 2018 found that "On average 2.6% of grammar school children received free school meals compared with 13.4% of children across all state secondary schools". There are also clear results when looking at the income deprivation affecting children index (IDACI) showing poorer students are less likely to get into a grammar school. A House of Commons report states that 4% of students in grammar schools have Special Educational Needs compared to 11% in non-selective schools.

This difference is so large that even students who are high achievers are less likely to get into grammar schools just because they are on free school meals. " selective local authorities, 66% of children who achieve level 5 in both English and Maths at Key Stage 2 who are not eligible for free school meals go to a grammar school compared with 40% of similarly high achieving children who are eligible for free school meals".

Richer students are also more likely to get into grammar schools. 13% of the students who get into grammar schools went to fee paying preparatory schools compared to 6% nationally. That's not to mention the ability for students from wealthier families to pay for tutoring for the 11+ test.

In short, no. Grammar schools create secondary moderns which are schools attended by those who don't get into grammar schools. Comprehensive schools have a comprehensive intake and schools around them are called secondary moderns. In England right now there are 281 secondary moderns whilst there are 163 grammar schools in England.

BAME, which means black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals, are a diverse group of people. Whilst the proportion of non-white pupils is higher this isn't true for all groups such as Black pupils where the proportion is lower.