Ever since the introduction of modern grammar schools in 1944, they have been associated with academic success. Their selective process by means of the 11 Plus exam makes grammar entry very competitive.
There are currently 164 grammar schools in England and 69 in Northern Ireland and when compared to the number of state secondaries (around 3,000) it’s easy to see why they’re so sought after by parents.
In this post, we take a closer look at the benefits of attending a grammar school.
Grammars are state secondary schools that admit pupils based on their academic performance in the 11 Plus exam. Under the grammar school system, students who are successful in passing the exam gain entry to their local grammar and those who are unsuccessful attend their local secondary modern.
The alternative to the grammar school system and the most commonly used in the UK is the comprehensive system, where students of all abilities learn together.
Although there are some grammars in Wales and Scotland, they are only identified as such by name. They do not operate under the grammar school system, and are non-selective.
Grammar schools undermine privilege
It’s often said that grammar schools undermine privilege and enable the brightest students to study at top schools, regardless of their social background. Because entry to grammar school is based on academic performance in the 11 Plus, pupils who score highly won’t be denied a place for any external reasons.
A commonly held belief about grammars is that they provide opportunities for students from poorer backgrounds to climb the social ladder.
Because grammar pupils are generally of the same ability, it’s argued that teachers are able to progress lessons more effectively than at comprehensive level. As such, grammar schools tend to be the highest performing schools in local and national league tables.
According to a 2008 report conducted by the Sutton Trust and published on the Grammar Schools Association website, grammar school students perform better in GCSEs than pupils from other schools. There are also indications that grammar pupils make greater progress at KS3 and KS4 level.
Many high acheivers attended grammar schools
Another advantage of grammar schools is their track record of producing students who go on to have successful careers in a variety of industries. Former grammar school pupils who are now high achievers include John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Boris Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, David Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins.
It’s often said that attending a grammar school provides pupils with the skills, resources and connections required to be successful later in life.
Gaining entry to a top grammar school means having access to a comprehensive education and a network of influential friends. Evidence suggests that the friendships students forge at school have an impact on their future success.
Likewise, a recent study conducted by a group of universities, including the University of Bath, Bristol, and the Institute of Education at the University of London concluded that pupils who attend a grammar school end up earning more than those who attend comprehensive schools.
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