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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

State Grammar SchoolsGrammar 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, with only a few grammar schools.

A word of warning: not all selective grammar schools have 'grammar' in their name. Bournemouth School and Dr Challoner's High School are just two examples. Likewise, many schools with grammar in their name are actually fee-paying independent schools (Bradford Grammar School and Bristol Grammar School for example).

Do you have to live in a grammar school area?

You don't necessarily have to live in an area with state grammar schools to gain a place at one. Some schools will recruit from beyond their home authority, while others, such as Ripon Grammar School, offer boarding facilities for children with an identified 'boarding need.' However, the majority now give preference to those living in defined catchment areas, or within reasonable commuting distance of the school, with distance often used as a tie-break.


Further reading

Best added value grammar schools

Choosing a school - thoughts for parents

Understanding the 11+

Grammar school appeals

Grammar schools – are they really what’s needed?

State school admissions

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Related articles


  • Grammar schools - best value added

    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.

  • Choosing a school - thoughts for parents

    What do you want for your child? State school or fee-paying? Day or boarding school? Single sex or co-education? It helps to have a game plan, even if you change it at a later date. What do you want from the school? Undoubtedly you want to find a great school, one that's ideal for your child, with great teaching and possibly good facilities to match.

  • Understanding the 11+

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    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?

  • Grammar schools are they really what’s needed?

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