A new study now suggests that paying school fees is a waste of money because bright children will thrive anywhere.
Conducted by King’s College London, the study found that grammar schools and private schools created only a tiny increase in exam grades at GCSE level compared to state schools.
Researchers looked at performance at maths, science and English GCSEs by boys and girls in England and Walesand found that the type of school a child went to had little impact on their academic achievement – at least at GCSE level.
According to the researchers, part of the reason pupils who go to selective schools fare better is because the best pupils are hand-picked.
Once genes, social and economic background and other factors such as gender were taken into account, the difference was less than a tenth of a grade.
The findings, published in the journal npj Science of Learning, found GCSE students at private and grammar schools scored around a grade higher across English, maths and science, than their peers in non-selective schools.
But once factors that are involved in selection are taken into account – such as ability, previous academic achievement and socio-economic status – there was less than a tenth of a grade difference.
Co-author of the study, Professor Robert Plomin, said, “We are saying there is no value added from these selective schools. It’s just a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Lead author Emily Smith-Woolley said, ‘Our study suggests that for educational achievement there appears to be little added benefit from attending selective schools.”