The term grammar school was coined in medieval times, but modern-day state grammar schools came into being as a result of the 1944 Education Act; this made provision for a tripartite system of education, open to all.
The tripartite system comprised of:
Grammar schools for the academically able
Tertiary schools for those with a technical bent
Secondary moderns for everyone else.
In reality very few tertiary schools were opened, secondary moderns became synonymous, in many areas, with 'sink school', and grammar schools, which were designed to select the top 25 per cent of academically able pupils by means of an 11+ examination, were criticised for being elitist and divisive.
Detractors of the grammar school system felt that the future of pupils was irretrievably determined at age 11.
Typically, grammar school students would study for the School Certificate - later O levels and A levels, with many continuing to further education. Until the introduction of CSEs in the sixties, most secondary modern pupils would leave school without any qualifications (many subsequently become qualified via trade apprenticeships or night school study).
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, many grammar schools were abolished in favour of comprehensive schools for all-comers. The Direct Grant Grammar Schools (Cessation of Grant) Regulations 1975 led to the abolition of many grammar schools - some became comprehensive schools, while others opted to become fee-paying schools. As a result of parental pressure and decisions at local level, some authorities managed to hang on to their grammar schools.
Today there are fewer than 200 state funded grammar schools; where they exist they are often viewed as a credible, free alternative to an independent school education, with places sought after and hard fought.
Counties such as Kent or Buckinghamshire are ‘selective authorities’ and most families will have at least one grammar school close to where they live. Elsewhere, for example in Reading or Kingston-on-Thames, there are just one or two grammar schools and competition for places at these is ferocious.
How to find a state grammar school
Grammar schools are located in 36 English local authorities. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston,…
This is the must read article for any parent of a child under eleven years of age who is contemplating a selective or independent school education. We unravel the mystery behind 11+ testing and examinations and explain what you need to do, when and how, to ensure maximum success for your child.
Your child has passed the 11+, but has not been offered a grammar school place. Or perhaps your child has narrowly missed the required mark or has not performed as expected in the tests. What can you do?
As the debate about grammar schools hots up and the Prime Minister herself seems to favour their reintroduction in a limited way, two experienced Good Schools Guide educationalists offer their contribution.
We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2015 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.
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