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Grammar schools make no difference – great, let’s have more grammar schools

Summary:
The standard argument against grammar schools is that they confer privilege. Presumably the complaint is that if the academic are given an academic education then this is somehow unfair. At which point we've the news that grammars do not in fact confer such privilege. Great, so, let's have more grammars then:Grammar schools do not help children achieve academic success, a UCL study has claimed.Researchers also said attending a grammar school had no positive impact on a teenager's self-esteem or their aspirations for the future.The study, by the UCL Institute of Education, comes weeks after the Government announced plans to pump £50 million into creating more places at grammar schools."Against the conventional wisdom, we find little evidence that gaining entry into a grammar school has a

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The standard argument against grammar schools is that they confer privilege. Presumably the complaint is that if the academic are given an academic education then this is somehow unfair. At which point we've the news that grammars do not in fact confer such privilege. Great, so, let's have more grammars then:

Grammar schools do not help children achieve academic success, a UCL study has claimed.

Researchers also said attending a grammar school had no positive impact on a teenager's self-esteem or their aspirations for the future.

The study, by the UCL Institute of Education, comes weeks after the Government announced plans to pump £50 million into creating more places at grammar schools.

"Against the conventional wisdom, we find little evidence that gaining entry into a grammar school has a positive impact upon most aspects of young people’s lives," the study concludes. 

"This leads us to an important conclusion: gaining entry into a grammar school may actually not be as important as many assume."

Professor John Jerrim, lead author of the study, said: "Our findings suggest that the money the Government is planning to spend on grammar school expansion is unlikely to bring benefits for young people.

"Even those children who are likely to fill these new places are unlikely to be happier, more engaged at school or have higher levels of academic achievement by the end of Year 9."

Co-author Sam Sims added: "Schools across the country are already hard-pressed financially. Our research suggests that the Government would be better off directing their money towards areas of existing need, rather than expanding grammar schools."

That is, of course, entirely the wrong conclusion to be reaching from the evidence presented.

The basic democratic deal is that we, the taxpayers and voters, get what we want. The restriction upon this is when what we so desire limits or impacts the rights of others among us. It's always, or at least should be, a negative restriction.

Spending money into order to inculcate privilege among the few would therefore be something that - potentially at least - shouldn't be one. But if that privilege isn't being created then the question becomes much simpler.

Do the people who pay the taxes, the voters, desire grammar schools? Yes, most certainly they, we, do. Given that there is no unfair privilege being created, as this research insists isn't, there's no reason to deny us all our wish, is there? 

 The finding that grammars do no harm means we should have more grammars.

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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