Advancing by slow degrees



This post reports five-year trends in the admission of disadvantaged students to selective universities, as revealed by the government’s key stage 5 destinations data.

This half decade coincided almost exactly with the lifetime of a government that was strongly committed to social mobility through higher education. What does the destinations data reveal about the progress it made – and what lessons might be drawn by those of us still striving to make a difference?



In October 2016 DfE published a statistical first release containing provisional key stage 5 destinations data for academic year 2014/15, so creating a five-year sequence of data stretching back to 2010/11.

The release – Destinations of KS4 and KS5 pupils: 2015 (provisional) – received scant attention from the education commentariat, coinciding as it did with the publication of two other bulletins containing provisional 2016 GCSE and A level results.

But this dataset is…

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Do grammar schools close attainment gaps?


This experimental post revisits the question whether all grammar schools are effective in closing attainment gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers.

Ministers have asserted as much in recent speeches, but they are relying on a single piece of research, now more than a decade old. The Education Policy Institute has countered with qualified statistical comparisons between selective and comprehensive schools

This post explores what can be deduced about the effectiveness of individual grammar schools from published School Performance Tables data. It is divided into three sections:

  • Commentary on the evidence behind the Government’s statement and on the Education Policy Institute’s counter-analysis.
  • Experimental analysis of 2015 Performance Tables data relating to several different headline measures.
  • Comparison between these new findings and my previous Performance Tables analysis covering the period from 2011 to 2013.

The middle section is is very much a work in progress and I welcome your constructive…

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