Poor children need help with selective state school entrance exams, says study

Some highly selective state schools should do more to help poorer children pass their entrance exams, suggests a government-funded study. Only children whose parents can afford coaching can pass the toughest exams, says the report for the Cabinet Office. This is from the BBC…

Such schools “may owe their neighbourhood” more help for poorer children, suggests author David Boyle.

Grammar school heads said their schools were less socially selective than leading comprehensives.

The report, The Barriers to Choice in Public Services, looked at “whether inward-looking admissions criteria, for example by faith and super-selective schools, ought to be balanced by a broad duty to promote a social balance inside the school”.

It suggests that “state-funded schools which do not adopt some responsibility for the wider well-being of their neighbourhood may not be fulfilling the social contract that people might reasonably expect of them”.

“If schools narrow their intake to those who can afford the coaching to pass entrance exams, then they may owe their neighbourhood some route whereby less advantaged local people can aspire to get their children up to that standard.”

Author David Boyle, of the New Economics Foundation, told BBC News that he was not suggesting that all children should be coached to pass entrance exams into “super-selective” schools, but that the need for coaching to pass some of the tests was “a clear barrier” to some families.

A duty along these lines would not undermine the academic focus of super-selective schools, argues the study.

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