- Experts say primary education doesn’t always lead to better GCSE results
- It comes five years after the Government allocated £50m to these schools.
Primary schools have long been at the center of the debate, as 11-year-olds are denied what is often seen as a better education.
But experts have now questioned primary schools, as research suggests there is no evidence that they lead to better GCSE results.
New research, led by Durham University, finds that areas with comprehensive schooling actually do the same, with similar numbers of students earning A*-C grades (now 9-4).
Meanwhile, it was found that the brightest students did better in comprehensive schools than in elementary school.
The results come just five years after the Government allocated £50m to the expansion of new primary schools in a mission to raise national standards.
Primary schools have long been at the center of the debate, as 11-year-olds are denied what is often seen as a better education. But experts have now questioned selective schools as research suggests there is no evidence they lead to better GCSEs (file image)
“Our study adds to the evidence that the expansion of primary schools and the selective system are unlikely to raise national academic standards,” said co-author Dr Xin Shao, from University College London.
“The costs of reorganizing our education system to have more selection would be high, and there are much higher investment priorities to support equal opportunity for those, regardless of family background: expanding the selective system would not be a smart move.”
As part of their analysis, the experts analyzed the GCSE results of nearly 500,000 students from 2016.
The team takes into account a number of factors, including the social background of students, gender, and many other factors.
While areas with elementary schools were associated with a small increase in pass rates, their presence did not appear to significantly bolster overall regional performance.
Students in areas with an elementary school were slightly less likely to earn five A’s or A* grades (now 9, 8 and 7) compared to unscreened areas.
Meanwhile, students in both types of schooling in a selective local authority were less likely to earn five A’s or A* grades than equivalent students in predominantly comprehensive areas.
As a result, experts say neither system is superior and further expansion of primary schools is unlikely to raise national academic standards.
They also argue that the competitive nature of selective schooling can be detrimental to students’ mental well-being.
The results come five years after the Government allocated £50m to these schools.
The ‘big fish, small pond’ phenomenon was cited as an example, in which grammar students might consider themselves inferior compared to other bright peers.
Still, experts stress that more research is needed to understand the influence of other factors on this phenomenon.
For example, high performance in London – which is not home to many primary schools – may be driving up the average for comprehensive systems.
“Although the overall results of the effects of the two systems do not reveal that either of them is superior, an internal pattern implies negative results of the selective system, which can be affected by both high achievers and low achievers”, stated Dr. Binwei Lu of Durham University’s Center for Evidence for Education.