Get a Place at Grammar School
The Grammar School has been with us since believe it or not, Medieval times. But, more over, grammar schools have existed in a form similar to that known to us today since the 1870's when -just like today - an entrance test was applicable to distinguish a candidate's suitability. It was with this in mind that in 1944, when the schools system was revised in accordance with the Butler Act that made it possible for all to have a full time education, that Grammar schools became something more than an ad hoc proposition in certain regions.
Grammar schools were abolished in 1974 in favour of Comprehensive - or Secondary schools - but there were members of the community who saw it as reasonable to be expected to pay for their child's education.
That said we still have a grammar school system, which is operated in a selective entry basis with the top 10% in a particular catchment area being offered places. Indeed, whereas initially the 11-plus entrance test was applicable across the United Kingdom and provided grammar schools with an entrant's scoring system, there are now only a handful of counties left in the UK still using this system.
Northern Ireland, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Trafford, Wiltshire, Skipton, and North Yorkshire are among those still carrying out 11-plus entrance tests for admission to grammar schools. Other areas such as The Wirral, Lincolnshire, and several London boroughs including Bromley and Redbridge have tried and have been unsuccessful in abolishing the 11-plus system of entrance to grammar schools.
At the time of writing there are currently 164 state run grammar schools still in existence throughout the United Kingdom.
Gaining a Place at a Grammar SchoolMost grammar schools have an allotted number of places for the coming school year and as such it is important to begin the process of trying to gain admittance for your child early. Generally admission is gained through an application to your Local Authority on a Common Application Form and is subject to evidence of ability being provided.
Depending on the grammar school chosen it may be necessary to complete and return a supplementary application form, which is then returned directly to the school itself.In some cases - but not all - ability and therefore suitability is tested through a series of tests which are normally held either during school breaks or perhaps on a Saturday morning.
If you wish your child to attend a grammar school outside your catchment area, it is permitted in your own locale providing that the board of governors are satisfied that rigorous testing conditions have been used.
Open days are also available, and it is advised if you can attend on these days that you do so, and take your child along with you so that they may get a feel for the place themselves. Alternatively if you cannot attend on these designated days all schools welcome parents on an appointment basis throughout the school term.
It is also worth consulting with the headteacher at your child's current school as during the course of the school year they will be asked to meet with senior staff from grammar schools to discuss admissions. It is worth while making it known to your child's current headteacher that you are interested in their attending a grammar school before they finish primary education.
The tests that are, more often than not required to be taken, are verbal reasoning and an English and Mathematics test; it is upon these results that places are allocated depending on the results of these tests. Ask your child's teacher for additional homework or exercises that may go some way to ensuring they are well prepared for these entrance tests.
Of course it is fair to say that this is no guarantee of admission as for the most part, results are standardised to take into account the age difference of applying students.
Again it all comes down to the number of places that the grammar school of your choice has available. Applying early does no harm at all, but again it does come down to the number of places available and the results of any tests that may be required.
Local Authorities make their decisions known in the February prior to the beginning of the new September term and this does give you time to appeal a decision, should you feel that it is an unjust one.
For the most part though the system works well and is fair and Local Authorities do try and give a balanced view and allow all the same opportunities to gain admission to their chosen grammar school. It is worth noting however that just because your child fairs well in the admission tests that does not guarantee them a place, especially if you live outside the catchment area.