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Attitudes towards ‘good schools’ & selective education

School children walking down corridor
Published: June 2017

The public are split on the expansion of grammar schools, with 53% supporting such a policy.


This report reveals what the public thinks makes a good school and gets beneath the skin of what drives attitudes towards selective education and grammar schools. 

Download the report 'Attitudes towards ‘good schools’ and selective education' and the accompanying tables.


Slightly more than half, 53%, would support the expansion of grammar schools; one of the Conservatives’ manifesto pledges. 

While most thought grammars were very good at enabling children to achieve academic success, they were not seen as being much better at preparing pupils for work than secondary modern schools.

As many as two-thirds believe that grammar schools level the playing field for children from disadvantaged backgrounds either some, 54%, or all, 13%, of the time. 

The public was relatively optimistic about the chances of a bright child from a disadvantaged background getting into a grammar school – 45% of respondents thought there was some chance and 18% thought there was a high chance. 


We interviewed 2,176 people living in England and Wales in November 2016, either via the internet or over the phone as part of NatCen's panel. All respondents were originally interviewed as part of the random probability face-to-face 2015 British Social Attitudes survey