NORTH-East researchers are calling for grammar schools to be phased out following a study which found that they can damage social mobility.

The Durham University study, which involved analysing more than half a million pupil records, found that while grammar schools are no better or worse than non-selective state schools in terms of attainment, they can increase social segregation.

Professor Stephen Gorard from Durham University’s School of Education, said: “Dividing children into the most able and the rest from an early age does not appear to lead to better results for either group.

“This means that the kind of social segregation experienced by children in selective areas in England, and the damage to social cohesion that ensues, is for no clear gain.”

The researchers say a policy of increasing selection within the schools system is dangerous for equality in society and are calling on the Government to phase out grammar schools.

The analysis, published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, found that once the pupil intake of grammar schools is taken into account based on factors such as chronic poverty, ethnicity, home language, special educational needs, and age in the year group, grammar schools are no more or less effective than other schools.

The apparent success of grammar schools is due to the pupils coming from more advantaged social backgrounds and already having higher academic attainment at age 11, say the researchers.

They found grammar schools took only two per cent of children eligible for free school meals, compared to 14 per cent nationally, which they say means other schools are disproportionately dealing with the more chronically poor in those areas.

Report co-author Dr Nadia Siddiqui, assistant professor at Durham University, said: “Every grammar school creates a much larger number of schools around it that cannot be comprehensive in intake because they are denied a supply of so many of the highest attaining children.

“In areas with selective schools, the system leads to increased social and economic segregation between schools which has consequences for huge numbers of pupils in the non-selective schools such as lower self-esteem, poorer role models, poorer relationships and distorted sense of justice.”

Details of 549,203 children in the 2015 key stage four cohort were analysed