State Grammar Schools


What is a State Grammar School?

As of 2020, there are currently 163 state grammar schools in England, spread across 36 local authorities, with a further 69 in Northern Ireland. However there are no grammar schools in Wales and Scotland. Grammar schools were created under the 1944 Education Act a part of the Tripartite System, which consisted of:

  • Grammar schools (aiming to educate the most academically able of children)
  • Secondary technical schools (designed to train children in technical and scientific subjects)
  • Secondary modern schools (intended to train children in practical skills)

This system was abolished between in the 60s and 70s. At this time, many grammar schools converted into independent or comprehensive schools. In 1988, the government banned the creation of new grammar schools. Despite this, they continue to educate around 167,000 children. We differentiate between state grammar schools and private grammar schools as some private schools will use the phrase ‘grammar school’ and charge school fees. Wnereas state grammar schools are free.

The Application Process

Not all state grammar schools require you to live within the local authority. However the majority tend to give preference to those who live within a defined catchment area or with a reasonable commuting distance.

The 11+

State grammar schools are selective. Children applying to grammar schools are required to sit the 11+ exam, which usually includes a combination of:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Non-verbal reasoning
  • Maths
  • English comprehension, punctuation and grammar
  • Creative writing

The test is normally sat in the first term of Year 6, and the content varies between different education authorities.

Is a Grammar School Right for Your Child?

The best way to get a feel for your local grammar school is to attend an open day with your child. Or alternatively, you can book an appointment to visit on another day during term time. To thrive at a grammar school, your child should be of above average academic ability. Whilst many families opt to have their children privately tutored for the 11+ exam, it is wise to avoid tutoring your child to win a place, for them to later struggle academically.


Grammar schools have always been a controversial topic. Those in favour claim that they to give all children, regardless of background, the opportunity of a good education, creating social mobility. Others argue that they reinforce the status quo, favouring those whose children have access to intensive private tuition. Some also believe that it is unfair to try determine a child’s academic potential at age eleven.

Nevertheless, grammar schools remain an extremely popular chose for parents. Grammar school can be found in several London boroughs. And also in many counties including Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Competition for grammar school places is stiff, especially at renowned London grammar schools such as the Tiffin Girls’ School.

We work closely with families to support children’s entry into leading UK schools.  If you would like advice on grammar school catchments areas. Or if you are considering a state grammar school for your child and would like to discuss your application, please do not hesitate to contact us 


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