The biggest political news story today is the government’s decision to allow the opening of a de facto new grammar school in Kent (it’s illegal to actually open a new grammar school, so technically it’s a second site for an existing grammar school in another town). Obviously it’s too early for there to be any polling in re-action to this, but it’s a long standing issue so there is plenty of past polling to look at.

On balance, the public tend to support the existence of current grammar schools – only around a quarter of people support the government ending selection in the remaining grammar schools and opening them to children of all abilities. In contrast, around 40% of people support allowing more selection by ability and the opening of new Grammar schools – the balance is made up of don’t knows and people who back what was the status quo of allowing the existing grammar schools to remain, but not allowing any new ones.

In May YouGov asked about the “loophole” that Nicky Morgan today approved – opening up an extension of an existing grammar school at a new campus in a different location. 51% of people approved of that idea, 18% disapproved, 30% didn’t know. So for what it’s worth, it appears to get the public’s thumbs up.

As an aside, whenever the issue of public attitudes towards grammar schools pops up on the agenda I see the same question. Polls that ask about grammar schools normally show the sort of results I’ve outlined above, and critics of grammar schools will normally counter with something along the lines of “Ah, but you only asked about grammar schools, if you’d asked do you want to bring back grammar schools for those who pass the test… and secondary moderns for those who don’t, then you would have got a different answer”.

That’s a reasonable point. So we tested it.

Back in February YouGov asked a question to two different samples. Half were asked if they’d like to bring back grammar schools across the whole of Great Britain – 53% said yes, 20% said no. The other half were asked if they’d like to bring back the system of an exam at 11, with 25% of children who passed going to grammar schools and the other 75% going to secondary moderns. Now 46% of people supported it, 34% of people were opposed.

People are, at first glance, pretty supportive of grammar schools. That support is undermined a little when people consider the other side of the coin – the majority of children who do not pass the exam – but grammar schools still have more supporters than detractors.


159 Responses to “What polls say about grammar schools”

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  1. @Bill Patrick:

    I think AW has previously mentioned that Comres have already made changes to take into account the election polling issue, whereas ICM’s changes so far are minimal so the pre-election errors are still in place.

  2. John,

    That makes sense. So, depending on which pollsters you believe, Labour may be moving forwards or backwards right now.

  3. I appreciate that Comres normally shows a strong Tory performance, but this latest poll suggests that Corbyn is going to find it difficult to make headway.

    At the present time, there is something of a truce between the Blairites and the Corbynistas, but it is looking decidedly fragile. Corbyn looked much more comfortable when campaigning for the leadership than he does now having prevailed.

    I still think that the likeliest outcome is a sustained period of relatively poor polling performance by Labour leading to Corbyn standing down in 2018. I had expected something of a ‘Corbyn bounce’, but this does not seem to have happened, which is ominous for him. There is also the chance of a major meltdown in Labour support – the EU referendum might give opportunity to the Lib Dems and UKIP, as their commitment to ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ respectively is sharper.

  4. @Cynosarges

    Well yes there are genetic factors that affect accents (you need vocal chords, an ability to speak etc) and the examples you point to but I was taking that as read.

    What I was using the example of accents for was to make the point that nobody has a gene for a certain accent (Welsh, English etc), so you can’t leap from saying something is heritable to saying it’s genetic.

  5. Millie
    ICM has shown some limited evidence of a Corbyn bounce , but in practice such bounces tend not to last long. After all Corbyn has now been leader for five weeks – and his victory had been widely anticipated for a good month prior to that.

  6. @ Anarchist
    @Cynosarges

    ‘Well yes there are genetic factors that affect accents (you need vocal chords, an ability to speak etc) and the examples you point to but I was taking that as read.’

    In addition, there is evidence that the sculpting of brain architecture during late pregnancy/early infancy reduces the range of sounds differentiated, to correspond to that of the primary caregivers. Hence, the Dutch with a ‘range’ which extends beyond but encompasses the English ‘range’ can often speak English without a trace of a foreign accent but the French (and the English speaking French) find it extremely difficult to do the same because the ‘ranges’ of the two languages are very different.

    The caveat to those findings is that the children of ‘immigrants’, generally have the accent of the country that they were born and grew up in, rather than that of their parents.

  7. @Catman

    Eh? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? What kind of birthday treat is that compared to Boycott Bingo on TMS??…

  8. @Carfrew

    Maybe I have failed as a parent, but I have not yet persuaded my 7 year old daughter of the merits of Geoff Boycott over My Little Pony, Little Mix, The Littlest Pet Shop, Aslan, Monster High, High School Musical……..

    I have not idea why…

  9. @ Catman Jeff

    I have no idea why…

    You’re just not trying hard enough? ;-)

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