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National Grammar Schools Association
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1) What is a grammar school?

Grammar schools are state secondary schools. They are the only state schools in England (where there are 164) and Northern Ireland (where there are 69) that are allowed by law to select all their pupils on the grounds of high academic ability. There are no state grammar schools in Scotland or Wales. Because they are funded by the state, grammar schools do not charge fees, though a few grammar schools have boarding facilities. They will charge fees for boarding, but not for tuition.

2) Where are my nearest grammar schools and how do I seek admission for my child?

At the National Grammar Schools Association's website you will see 'Find a school' at the top of the homepage. Click on this link and you will see 'county quickfinder'. If you look at the areas or counties of interest (ie Greater London, Midlands, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Lincolnshire etc), you will find details of the grammar schools in those areas. Each school's web address should be there too, so you can visit the schools' websites for further information. (You can also click on the map in the area where you have an interest.) You are allowed to apply for a place at a school or schools in any local authority area, even if it is not the one in which you live.

Grammar schools usually have their own admission arrangements, so it is very important that you contact the schools directly and in good time about their selection test arrangements. Selection tests usually take place about a year before a child moves up from primary to secondary school.

3) How can I compare results at different grammar schools?

Some newspapers produce tables of exam results by type of school. For example, if you go to www.telegraph.co.uk and search for 'GCSE results', you should see articles written in August each year that will lead you to tables showing comparative GCSE (or A-level) results for most grammar schools. These tables are published soon after the results are given out, so they are often more up-to-date than official Department for Children, Schools and Families tables. They are also easier to understand and better classified.

4) How can I prepare my child for the selection test?

The only requirements for selection to a grammar school are for a child to have reasonably high academic ability and to have set down solid foundations in the 3Rs in a good primary school. Booklets of sample '11-plus' papers can be purchased at large bookshops such as W.H. Smith for about £5.00. Where competition for places in grammar schools is very fierce, some parents hire private tutors to coach their child before for his or her 11-plus. But that should not be necessary if the two requirements mentioned above can be met.

5) Do all children have the option to take a voluntary selection test for a place in a grammar school?

Unfortunately not. It depends on where they live. Most politicians are ideologically opposed to grammar schools and because the state education system is ultimately controlled by politicians, more than two thirds of England's 150 local authorities have no grammar schools at all. However, Kent has 34, Lincolnshire has 15 and Buckinghamshire has 13. Some local authorities have a few and others have only one or two.