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How competitive are grammar school places?

Over the last few year grammar schools have received a lot of press attention, with the government initially backing a boost in places igniting a fierce debate. If you’re considering a grammar school for your child, competition to get the converted places is high. For the most elite grammar schools, you can expect multiple children to be sitting the exam for each place.

Now that parents can apply to any secondary school of their choice, the demand for places at those that are perceived as the best is growing. It’s led to more children sitting the 11+ to take advantage of a grammar school education. But how many children apply for each grammar place?

The figure varies between different areas of the UK but in 2012 some places had as many as 12 children vying for each spot, putting a huge amount of pressure on those sitting exams. Both the top grammar and leading state funded academies have applicants willing to travel for miles to take advantage of their facilities and educational opportunities. It means the year 6 pupils that are sitting the grammar school exams have stiff competition from the brightest children beyond their immediate local area.

While grammar schools aim to provide an excellent education for children from all social backgrounds, figures have shown that only a very small portion of children securing places come from poorer families. In 2016, only one of the 163 selective schools in England was found to take more than 10% of its cohort from pupils that receive free school meals. Part of the reason behind this is the competitive nature of grammar school places and the strict tutoring that many children succeeding have in the run up to the exams.

How can I boost my child’s chances of doing well in the 11+?

For many children, the 11+ is the first formal exam that they’ll sit that will have a significant impact on their future – it can make it a daunting prospect.

As a result, preparation is key. The 11+ covers a wide variety of English and maths areas, although the actual exams vary from school to school. Many parents keen to get their child into a grammar school will start tutoring sessions well over a year before the actual exam date but it’s an expensive option. However, understanding what to expect and where marks are awarded is crucial.

School Exams provides you with an alternative. We deliver a whole range of practice papers with animated videos that take children through the process question by question, so they’ll know how to pick up every mark on the paper.

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