What is a grammar school education worth in 2014?

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Employees that attended grammar schools earn significantly more than their comprehensive counterparts.

The researchers from University of Bristol, the University of Bath and the Institute of Education, University of London analysed information gathered by Understanding Society and found a much bigger gap between the wages of the highest and lowest paid individuals born in areas with a selective education system than they did in similar local authorities that had introduced comprehensive schools.

Researchers have reached this conclusion after analysing the pay of more than 2,500 people born between 1961 and 1983.

What’s the difference?

The average hourly wage difference between the top 10% and bottom 10% of earners born in selective schooling areas was £16.41 between 2009 and 2012. In otherwise similar areas that had gone comprehensive, the equivalent earnings gap was £12.33.

The researchers analysed information gathered from 40,000 UK households. This enabled them to take into consideration a wide range of factors that can affect individuals’ earnings. These include gender, ethnicity, parents’ education level and occupational class, and labour market conditions.

Even after allowing for such factors, they still found that 18% of the income gap between the highest and lowest earners could be explained by the school system. The researchers also point out that the highest earners from grammar school areas are significantly better off (£1.31 per hour, on average) than top earners born in similar comprehensive authorities. High-earning men appear to gain most from selective school systems.

Professor Simon Burgess from the University of Bristol, who led the research, suggests that the inequality caused by selective schooling systems could be explained by the calibre of their teaching force.

“Selective schooling systems sort pupils based on their ability and schools with high ability pupils are more likely to attract and retain high quality teaching staff,” he says. “This puts pupils who miss out on a grammar school place at an immediate disadvantage. In addition they will be part of lower ability peer groups, which also affects their chances of succeeding at school.”

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this news has been re-posted from the Understanding Society website