Top 10 Grammar Schools in the UK | Full Review

Top 10 Grammar Schools in UK
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You’re probably aware that researching schools for your child can be a real challenge. But you can consider our Top 10 Grammar Schools in UK.

Considering where the school is, whether there are international students, what kind of facilities it has, and how it teaches, there’s a lot to think about!

But here’s something that might help: We’ve created a list of the top 10 UK grammar schools based on their academic performance. This could make the whole process of finding the right school a little less overwhelming for you.

What Is A Grammar School

Grammar schools are a minority within the UK’s state school system, accounting for less than 1%, as reported by the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA).

These schools follow a selective admission process, requiring students to take the ’11+’ examination and often undergo interviews as part of their application.

One notable aspect is that attending a grammar school is tuition-free, and a majority of them rank among the top-performing schools in the UK.

As a result of their high standards, competition for spots in grammar schools is highly competitive.

Each year, a substantial number of schoolchildren, reaching hundreds of thousands, sit for the 11+ exam, hoping to secure admission to one of the 163 grammar schools scattered throughout the UK. This competition underscores the schools’ prestige and desirability.

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Groups by Age in UK Grammar Schools

UK grammar schools operate within two main age groups: the 11+ and the 16+ stages.

#1. The 11+ Stage

At around the age of 10 or 11, students take an exam commonly known as the 11+ (eleven plus). This exam assesses their functional skills in mathematics, English, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning.

The results of this test determine whether a student qualifies for admission to a grammar school. Those who perform well gain entry to these academically focused institutions.

#2. The 16+ Stage

For students around 16 years old, the focus shifts to the 16+ stage. At this point, students have typically completed their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams.

Students might choose to attend a grammar school’s sixth form or similar college-level programs depending on their results.

This stage is crucial as it prepares students for A-levels or other advanced qualifications vital for university admissions.

In both age groups, grammar schools provide an education tailored to academic excellence, often offering a wide range of subjects and extracurricular activities to foster well-rounded development.

Combining these age groups ensures that students benefit from focused education during their crucial years of secondary schooling, helping them progress toward their academic and career goals.

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Top 10 Grammar Schools in the UK | Full Review

Within UK grammar schools, certain institutions stand out for their exceptional academic standards, comprehensive facilities, and outstanding reputation.

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 grammar schools in the country:

#1. The Henrietta Barnett School

The Henrietta Barnett School, located in Hampstead Garden Suburb, North London, is a distinguished all-girls grammar school with academy status.

Established in 1911 by Dame Henrietta Barnett, the school’s mission was to enhance girls’ education based on merit rather than financial background.

Renowned for its exceptional academic achievements, Henrietta Barnett has secured top rankings as the premier girls’ grammar school on multiple occasions. It consistently surpasses national academic standards, making it a consistent leader in state schools league tables.

Graduates of the school commonly advance to esteemed universities, including prestigious institutions like Oxbridge, UCL, King’s College London, and LSE.

Moreover, the school stands among the top 10 grammar schools in the United Kingdom, further solidifying its reputation as a beacon of educational excellence.

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Admission to The Henrietta Barnett School

Prospective female students aiming to secure a Year 7 position at The Henrietta Barnett School undergo a two-part 11 plus examination process. The initial stage of testing encompasses evaluations of verbal and numerical proficiencies.

Following this, candidates selected proceed to undertake English and mathematics assessments devised by the school.


#2. QE Barnet

Established through a royal charter in 1573, QE Barnet (Queen Elizabeth’s School) is a prestigious boys’ grammar school in North London. Within the local community, its students are affectionately known as Elizabethans.

QE Barnet delivers a demanding and intellectually stimulating academic curriculum to its students. Encompassing traditional and contemporary subjects, boys engage in a comprehensive educational experience enriched by various opportunities.

These include insightful talks by prominent guests, and collaborative research events called ‘symposia,’ organized with academically accomplished girls’ schools nearby.

Admission to QE Barnet

As part of the Queen Elizabeth’s School admission process, prospective students undertake the 11 plus examination during September of their Year 6. This assessment involves written assessments in English and mathematics.


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#3. Wilson’s School

Nestled in Sutton, southwest London, Wilson’s School is a renowned academy-status institution exclusively for boys.

Its rich legacy dates back to its foundation by royal charter in Camberwell (South London) in 1615, a historical distinction that places it among the oldest state schools in England.

2020 witnessed Wilson’s School earning the distinguished accolade of ‘London Secondary School of the Decade,’ a recognition bestowed by the Sunday Times.

At Wilson’s School, pupils are immersed in various subjects beyond the academic realm. A thoughtfully designed enrichment program, christened ‘The Elizabethan,’ complements these studies.

This program, which comprises three distinct dimensions—political, cultural, and public speaking—is carefully curated to nurture each young man’s holistic development.

By fostering these skills, ‘The Elizabethan’ effectively equips students to navigate the complexities of contemporary life in Britain. Wilson’s School is a remarkable beacon of educational excellence, contributing to the legacy of the top 10 grammar schools in the UK.

Admission to Wilson’s School

For young boys aspiring to secure a coveted place in Year 7, the journey involves successfully navigating the 11-plus entrance examination undertaken during Year 6.

As a distinguished Sutton grammar school, Wilson’s School employs the Sutton Selective Eligibility Test (SET) as an initial screening mechanism. Those who excel in this stage proceed as shortlisted candidates, subsequently engaging with the school’s bespoke English and mathematics assessments.


#4. The Tiffin Girls’ School

The Tiffin Girls’ School, located in Kingston upon Thames, London, is a distinguished all-girls selective institution. This school is a counterpart to Tiffin School, a boys-only establishment rooted in the 17th century.

The school’s mission revolves around fostering an intellectual enrichment and community engagement environment, nurturing students to thrive and make meaningful contributions to society.

Positioned among the top 10 grammar schools in the UK, The Tiffin Girls’ School was recognized in 2016 as a local recipient of the Pupil Premium Awards, acknowledging its success in enhancing the academic achievement and progress of underprivileged students.

Admission to The Tiffin Girls’ School

Entry to The Tiffin Girls’ School is achieved through a two-phase entrance examination process. During the initial stage, Aspiring Year 7 students face English and math assessments devised by GL Assessment, while the subsequent stage entails English and math papers prepared by the school.


#5. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, commonly called AGGS, is a renowned girls’ grammar school in Bowdon, Greater Manchester. Notably, in 2022, it was honored with the title of ‘Northwest Secondary School of the Year,’ a distinction bestowed upon it by the Sunday Times.

AGGS traces its origins back to 1910, when it was established in response to the 1902 Education Act, which aimed to enhance educational opportunities for young girls. With a student enrollment exceeding 1,300, the school proudly is England’s largest single-gender grammar school.

As one of the premier grammar schools across the UK, AGGS was an early recipient of the prestigious designation as a National Teaching School.

Its academic prowess spans various subjects, with notable strengths in mathematics, science, PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, and Economic education), and modern foreign languages.

An active participant in the Bright Futures Educational Trust, AGGS firmly secures its position among the top 10 grammar schools in the UK.

Admission to Altrincham Grammar School for Girls

For girls aspiring to join Year 7 at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, the entry process involves entrance examinations designed to evaluate proficiency in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, and mathematics.

This rigorous evaluation is part of the school’s comprehensive approach to selecting students ready to excel academically.


#6. Pate’s Grammar School

Established in 1574 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Pate’s Grammar School is an academy-status mixed-sex school. The Sunday Times named it ‘State Secondary School of the Year’ in 2020 and honored it as ‘The Southwest Secondary School of the Year’ in 2017 and 2022.

At the heart of Pate’s Grammar School is a shared vision of ‘Nurturing Excellence’ through the tenets of ‘Embracing Challenge,’ ‘Supporting Each Other,’ and ‘Shaping the Future.’ The school’s exceptional pastoral care underscores relationships and respect for rules, a principle resonating with its 2025 vision.

Renowned as one of the top 10 grammar schools in the UK, Pate’s Grammar School embodies academic distinction and a nurturing environment, making it a beacon of educational excellence.

Admission To Pate’s Grammar School

Prospective Year 7 students aspiring to enroll at Pate’s Grammar School undergo the Gloucestershire Grammar Schools Test during Year 6. This evaluation comprises two papers encompassing reading comprehension, vocabulary, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, and mathematics.


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#7. St Olave’s Grammar School

St Olave’s Grammar School is a distinguished selective state institution for boys with a mixed sixth form in Orpington, southeast London. Its origins date back to a royal charter in 1571. The school benefits from the St Olave’s and St Saviour’s Schools Foundation.

Termed ‘Olavians,’ students at St Olave’s embody lofty ambitions and often progress to esteemed universities in the UK and internationally.

Over the past four years alone, an impressive 130 Olavians secured coveted spots at Oxbridge, while 102 pursued engineering and 171 entered medicine.

These remarkable achievements firmly establish St Olave’s Grammar School among the top 10 grammar schools in the UK, underscoring its commitment to academic excellence and future-focused education.

Admission To St Olave’s Grammar School

For boys seeking admission to St Olave’s Grammar School in Year 7, the application process involves taking the school’s internal Selective Eligibility Test (SET) during September of Year 6.

This assessment encompasses English, mathematics, and verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Successful candidates are subsequently selected for the second-stage evaluations, which involve additional tests in English and mathematics.


#8. King Edward VI Grammar School

King Edward VI Grammar School, situated in Chelmsford, Essex, is a distinguished boys’ grammar institution, augmented by a co-educational sixth form.

Its establishment dates back to 1551, when a royal warrant from King Edward VI granted it, and it has garnered a consistent reputation for academic excellence.

An unwavering emphasis on academic achievement and a diligent work ethic underpin this standing. Notably, the Sunday Times bestowed upon it the title of ‘East Anglia Secondary School of the Year 2022. ‘

Beyond the conventional classroom setting, KEGS students actively participate in various lunchtime and after-school clubs and activities.

These opportunities span orchestras, choirs, ensembles, drama productions, musicals, local and national sports fixtures across various disciplines, the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Admission To King Edward VI Grammar School

Boys aspiring to secure a place in Year 7 at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford undergo an 11 plus test administered by the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex (CSSE). This comprehensive assessment includes evaluations in both English and mathematics.


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#9. Colyton Grammar School

Colyton Grammar School, situated in Devon, is a co-educational institution with a storied history. Established in 1546 with the noble goal of providing a “goodly and virtuous education of children forever,” the school remains dedicated to offering a remarkable tuition-free education to academically talented boys and girls.

At its core, Colyton Grammar School prides itself on being an inclusive institution founded on meritocracy. Pupils exhibit dedication, with a significant majority proceeding to some of the nation’s most esteemed higher education institutions, including Oxford, Cambridge, and the Royal College of Music.

Admission To Colyton Grammar School

For Year 7 applicants to Colyton Grammar School, the assessment comprises two 11 plus papers, encompassing questions that evaluate verbal, numerical, and non-verbal aptitude.


#10. Colchester Royal Grammar School

Colchester Royal Grammar School, located in Colchester, Essex, is a distinguished boys’ grammar institution. Its roots date back to 1206, rendering it one of the country’s oldest schools, and it holds Royal Charters granted by both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Remarkably, the school offers boarding options for sixth-form students, a feature uncommon among state schools.

The Sunday Times gave Colchester Royal Grammar School the title of East Anglia State School of the Decade in 2022. The school garners acclaim for its remarkable facilities, outstanding examination results, and an expansive extracurricular program.

This illustrious status solidifies Colchester Royal Grammar School’s position among the top 10 grammar schools in the UK, reflecting its rich history, academic achievements, and holistic educational approach.

Admission To Colchester Royal Grammar School

Boys seeking admission to Year 7 at Colchester Royal Grammar School undergo the CSSE 11 plus examination. This evaluation comprises two written papers designed by the Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex. These papers comprehensively assess proficiency in English and mathematics.


FAQs on the Top 10 Grammar Schools in UK

What exactly is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a type of secondary school in the UK that strongly emphasises academic education and selective admissions based on students’ performance in entrance exams. These schools historically focused on a classical curriculum and often have a reputation for providing high-quality education.

How do grammar school entrance exams work?

Grammar school entrance exams typically include subjects like mathematics, English, verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning. Students usually take the exams in their last year of primary school (Year 6), aiming to assess their academic abilities and potential for success in a more challenging curriculum.

Are grammar schools open to everyone, or do they have strict admissions criteria?

Grammar schools often have selective admissions criteria, meaning students must perform well on entrance exams to secure a place. These criteria vary from school to school, including exam scores, catchment areas, and sometimes interviews or additional assessments.

Do grammar schools charge tuition fees?

Most grammar schools in the UK are state-funded and do not charge tuition fees. However, some grammar schools might have associated costs for specific activities, uniforms, or extracurricular programs. It’s important to research individual school policies to understand any potential costs.

In Summary: Top 10 Grammar Schools in UK

These top 10 grammar schools in the UK shine as beacons of excellence, fostering academic achievement, holistic growth, and a commitment to nurturing future leaders.

From their historic foundations to their modern-day accolades, each school’s legacy resonates through its exceptional programs, outstanding facilities, and the boundless potential it instills in its students.


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