A paper published last week in an academic journal called npj Science of Learning attracted an unusual amount of press attention. It looked at the GCSE results of 4,814 students at three different types of school — comprehensives, private schools and grammars — and found that once you factor in IQ, prior attainment, parental socio-economic status and a range of genetic markers, the type of school has virtually no effect on academic attainment. Less than 1 per cent of the variance in these children’s GCSE results was due to school type.
I should declare an interest, since I was one of several co-authors, along with the distinguished behavioural geneticist Robert Plomin — who first announced his findings about the heritability of GCSE results in The Spectator in 2013 — although I had a very minor role. The researcher who deserves the lion’s share of the credit is Emily Smith-Woolley. (To read more, click here.)