What is a Grammar School?

 

Choosing a secondary school can be a confusing and daunting time. The best strategy is to be as informed and prepared as possible.

Grammar schools are selective state schools which are associated with high academic success. They select children using the 11+ exam – a test taken by children in Year 6. As students in grammar schools are largely of the same ability, it is thought that teachers are able to progress through the content more effectively. This helps to make grammar schools some of the top performing secondary schools in league tables.

Today’s modern grammar school concept originated in 1944 when free secondary education for children aged 14+ was introduced. At this time, secondary education was split into grammar schools and secondary modern schools. Today, we have grammar schools and ‘comprehensive’ state schools, like those you may remember from your own childhood. Comprehensive schools are non-selective and teach children of all abilities. They are much more common than grammar schools – there are only approximately 163 grammar schools in England out of a total of around 3000 state secondary schools. This, of course, makes grammar school entry highly competitive. The pass rate can be as low as 3 per cent!

 

The 11+ tests can be extremely challenging, as they tend to employ types of questions that aren’t generally covered in state primary schools. The tests assess all or some of the following areas:

  • Mathematical skills
  • Verbal reasoning (vocabulary and word associations)
  • English comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG)
  • Non-verbal reasoning (mathematical concepts, pattern recognition and logical reasoning)
  • Creative writing

 

Admission processes differ across grammar schools. Some admit the students who scored the highest marks in the 11+ exam. Others rank all of the children who passed the exam by other criteria, such as the distance between the school and their home or whether a sibling already attends the school.

At VAKS, we are experts with 18 years of experience in preparing children for grammar (and independent) school selection in North London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex. We provide specialist 11+ tutoring specific to GL and CEM (as well as Independent School) specifications, aimed to give children the best chance of success in the 11+ exam. Alongside filling gaps in learning and developing key skills, we thoroughly teach exam technique and strategies. These include: time management, understanding different types of questions and school specifications, and exam tips and tricks from our experienced teachers. We teach mindfulness skills to help children to cope with any stress they may be feeling. We also organise mock exams to ensure that children become familiar and comfortable with exam conditions. Children are taught in small groups to ensure that they receive the attention and support they need to refine, consolidate and accelerate their skills.

Get in touch with us today on 0800 404 8172. or email info@vaks.co.uk