Demand for grammars '50% more than places available'

DfE research reveals shortfall of 11,959 places in grammar schools last year based on first preferences listed by parents

Tes Reporter

grammar demand

Demand for grammar school places outstrips the numbers available, a study has suggested.

In 2019, for every 15 children whose first choice of secondary school was a grammar, only around 10 places were on offer, according to research published by the Department for Education (DfE).

The study looked at the first preferences listed by parents for secondary school places in England last year (2019). It found that grammar schools were given as a first choice 37,786 times. But there were only 25,827 places offered – a gap of 11,959 places.

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It indicates that demand for grammar school places is 46 per cent greater than the numbers available.

The report says: "Using the relationship between the number of first preferences and the number of places offered for a school as a measure of demand, for grammar schools there is an excess in demand of 11,959 places.

"In 2019, for every 15 pupils that chose a grammar school as their first preference, around 10 places were offered."

There are 163 grammar schools in England, with many concentrated in certain areas of the country, such as Kent and Buckinghamshire.

The schools, which collectively teach around 167,000 children, select pupils based on academic ability, and youngsters typically taking an entrance exam known as the 11-plus.

Selective education has long been controversial, with critics arguing that grammar schools are divisive and favour pupils from wealthier backgrounds, while supporters say they benefit bright pupils from all backgrounds.

In 2016, then prime minister Theresa May pledged to expand selective education and create a raft of new grammars; however, the current government is understood to have moved away from this plan.

The Department for Education announced today it has given the green light to six grammar schools to expand.

These schools will be given a share of £14.3 million for projects that will create over 1,100 extra selective school places, according to information published by the Department.

The money is provided through the Selective Schools Expansion Fund, which allocates money to expand grammars where there is need for extra places and a demand from parents, and plans are in place to increase access for poorer pupils and raise attainment.

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