About Grammar and Independent Schools

Grammar schools are state secondary schools, which select their students by means of an examination taken by children at age 11, known as the "11 Plus". Students who pass the exam gets admitted to the local grammar school, while students who do not go to the local "secondary modern school". Most parts of the UK do not have an explicitly selective education system of this sort. More common is the "comprehensive" system, in which students of all abilities and aptitudes are taught together. There are around 164 grammar schools in England and a further 69 in Northern Ireland. There are no state grammars in Wales or Scotland and although some retain the name 'grammar school', they are non-selective and have no special status. The majority of grammar schools teach students aged between 11 and 18, having integrated "sixth forms" that teach A Levels and equivalent post-16 courses. "Sixth forms" of this sort are far more unusual in comprehensive schools.

There are more than 2000 schools in the UK which are independent of local or central government control and approximately 8% of the school population in UK is educated within these schools. All independent schools must be registered with, and meet certain regulations set by, the DfES (Department for Education and Skills). In Wales the schools are registered with the Welsh Office Education Department-WOED. Independent Schools are usually funded by fees charged to parents and many are run as charitable trusts under a Board of Governors; a few schools are still privately owned (private schools).

It is a mistake to think that only rich or privately educated people send their children to independent schools. More than half the students entering independent schools today have parents who were educated in the state school system. Students come from varying backgrounds and most independent schools offer either scholarships or bursaries. At state boarding schools students pay only for boarding costs with the tuition paid for by the government. At Nursery level many schools accept the Government’s Childcare vouchers.