Grammar school tips

Everything you need to know. Here are our grammar school application tips.

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Plus, the differences in your grammar school application are detailed below.

Everything you need to know about differences in Grammar School applications! - cathedral

Grammar schools are state secondary schools which select their pupils by means of an examination taken by children at age 10 or 11. This is known as the “11-Plus”.

The first grammar schools, called ‘scolae grammaticales’, such as King’s School in Canterbury, first appeared from the 6th century. They were usually attached to cathedrals and monasteries. They focused on teaching Latin which was the language of the church. However, it wasn’t until the Education Act of 1944 that the first state-funded grammar schools emerged.

Who were grammar schools aimed at? 

They were aimed at the most intellectual 25% of children (as defined by the 11-Plus). They focused mostly on an academic curriculum, including Latin. Initially, children studied for the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate. However, these were replaced in 1951 with the General Certificate of Education (GCE) at ‘O’ (Ordinary) level and ‘A’ (Advanced) level.

In the 1940s and 1950s, there were over 1200 grammar schools that were fully state funded. There were also a smaller number of direct grammar schools which were partly state-funded but also took money from fee-paying parents (ie. Manchester Grammar School).

When is the 11 Plus taken?

Children generally sit the 11-Plus test for grammar schools during the Autumn term of Year 6, which is the beginning of their last year at primary school. This means that they are likely to be 10 or 11 years old when they take the exam. They will enter secondary school in September of the following year (Year 7) when they are 11 or just turning 12.

Other types of state school

The alternative was secondary modern schools. Aimed at children aged between 11 and 15, secondary modern schools taught some academic subjects, such as arithmetic. However, they usually focused on more ‘practical’ skills including metalwork, woodwork and cookery. Before the advent of the national curriculum in 1988, it was up to the individual school to decide the exact subjects they taught.

11 Plus SchoolEntranceTests poster
How to apply to grammar school

Who sets the questions for the 11-Plus?

There are several companies which provide 11-Plus exam papers. However, the main two are the GL Assessment and Durham’s CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring). Although GL Assessment still remains the biggest supplier of 11-Plus papers for schools and local authorities, Durham CEM’s papers are gaining in popularity because they claim to be more ‘tutor-proof’.

CEM 11 plus

According to its website “CEM aims to reduce any disadvantage created between children who are tutored for tests and those who are not.” It continues: “Our assessments are designed to enable all children to demonstrate their academic potential without the need for excessive preparation.”

Application tips

Both grammar schools and private schools are usually academically selective and require the student to pass an entrance test. Today there are around 163 grammar schools in England and a further 67 in Northern Ireland. Only a handful of local authorities in England have kept selective schools across all of the boroughs. These include Kent, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. In other areas, such as Gloucestershire, Trafford and Slough there is a mix. There are also a number of grammar schools in a few of the London boroughs as well as in Birmingham and Bournemouth. Approximately 45% of children in Northern Ireland attend a grammar school compared to just 5% in England.

How do I find grammar schools in my area?

One source for finding local grammar schools is the National Grammar Schools Association. This allows you to search for grammar schools by different counties. Here’s our own regional grammar schools list and Wikipaedia’s list of English grammar schools.

Best grammar school results?

The Telegraph’s top grammar schools list is based on GCSE results. Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston Upon Thames was the number one grammar school. The second was Upton Court Grammar School in Slough (boys and girls) and third was Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet (boys).

grammar school application tips

How do 11+ pass rates vary?

October’s test results come in the form of a standardised score. Parents will then have until the end of October to apply for secondary school places. Place allocation is at the beginning of March.

It varies considerably around the country. Kingston and Sutton’s four grammar schools in Kingston are the most oversubscribed/ The 11+ pass rate is less than 5 percent. In areas where the grammar system has been retained in full, the 11+ pass rate is considerably higher. In Buckinghamshire, it is around 30 percent each year and in Kent, it is about 50 per cent.

Can I appeal my Grammar School application?

It is possible to appeal a decision if you believe that the school has breached its own admission policies, that your child’s future could be harmed by not attending the school, or if there’s absolutely compelling proof that your child underperformed in the exams. The appeal procedure will normally involve submitting evidence, such as a letter from the head of the primary school, as well as attending an interview. However, don’t build your hopes up! Only around one in four appeals are successful. For more information, visit School Appeals Services.

grammar school application tips

More School Entrance Test Papers

11+ Past Papers

School Entrance Exams 7+ and School Entrance Exams 8+

Entrance Exams 9+ and School Entrance Exams 11+.

Which School Guides

Welcome to our Which School Guides:

Firstly, private Sixth Form Admissionstop private sixth Forms Guide , private London Sixth Forms blog and London Sixth Forms Guide.

Secondly, London Prep Schools GuidePrep schools, London prep schools guide and Top London Prep schools blog.

Thirdly, London private schoolsPrivate London School Admissions (A-M), Sunday Times Private Schools League Table and top private girls schools in London.

Plus, London Independent Schools Guide, and London’s top independent school A-Level results.

Then, Grammar Schools GuideLondon 11 plus practice tests11Plus GL Guide.

Also, UK Boarding Schools Guide, and primary school league tables.

Finally, London Pre-Schools Guide.

grammar school application tips