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Pupils' mental wellbeing not affected by taking 11-plus

Study of nearly 5,000 pupils shows main difference between those in selective and comprehensive schools is in educational expectation

11+ doesn't harm wellbeing

Study of nearly 5,000 pupils shows main difference between those in selective and comprehensive schools is in educational expectation

Taking entrance exams for selective schools has no lasting impact on the wellbeing of school children, research suggests.

A study by University College London (UCL) indicates that children report similar levels of wellbeing and school satisfaction regardless of whether they live in a selective education area and may attend a grammar school, or live in a comprehensive education area.

It found children from all schools had similar vocabulary and motivation, but those in selective schools had greater expectations of staying in education and attending university.


Read: ‘My class was in tears when we took the 11-plus’

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Read: Grammar schools are revolutionary for disadvantaged pupils 


The study analysed data from 4,784 children from the Millennium Cohort Study at ages 11 and 14.

Lead author John Jerrim said: "If exposure to the academic selection process affected pupils' mental states, then we could expect to see an association between living in a selective area and pupils' social and emotional outcomes around the time they take entrance exams, but we observed no such relationship.

"Likewise, there was no evidence that going through the academic selection process or taking an entrance exam had any lasting effect upon children's wellbeing."

The most noticeable difference between those in selective and comprehensive areas was regarding educational expectations.

Researchers said if 100 children were ranked by how likely they were to expect to go to university, with one being the most likely and 100 the least likely, grammar pupils in selective areas would be eight places higher.

Professor Jerrim added: "Our results suggest that aspirations towards higher education amongst disadvantaged pupils may benefit from increased exposure to highly aspirant peers."

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the study, said: "These findings are important because they suggest that by age 14 attending grammar school has little effect on children's wellbeing.

"Children attending selective schools did, however, have higher expectations for staying in school and attending university."

The study was published in the American Education Research Journal.

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