View Full Version : Comprehensive vs Grammar School

Tish Davidson
11-02-2006, 06:47 AM
In the British educational system, what is the difference between a comprehensive and a grammar school, and what are the social/class implications, if any?

11-02-2006, 07:57 AM
Comprehensive is completely unselective about its intake - all the kids in the catchment area get to go there.
Grammar schools select at approx age 11 for their intake.
Grammar schools still exist in some parts of England where the county education authorities resisted central government pressure to abolish them.
Where the grammar schools are still county funded, the class distinctions are less significant - smart working class kids are able (and encouraged) to go.
In some instances grammar schools about to be abolished by their county authority chose to go fee-paying which makes it much tougher for working class kids to go, so the class distinction is more marked.
So really, the answer is that it depends on which part of the country the school is in.

Steve W
11-02-2006, 07:13 PM

Grammar schools can also be gender specific, too - e.g. an all boys school - whereas, to my knowledge, comprehensives are always mixed sex.


11-02-2006, 10:04 PM
It depends a lot on the county and also "when" prior to 1968 in the county where I grew up you had grammar schools and secondary modern,(with pupils sitting an 11 plus exam) then they began to phase out the grammar schools. Then in the mid 70's to 1980's they went to a three tier system. infant school till the age 9, then "middle" junior school till 13, then comprehensive until 18. Then *sigh* back to a two teir system in the 1990's

I suggest you do a google search for the county council site of where you are setting the story, that should tell you whether they still have grammar schools or middle schools... It is a complex mess and can be a lottery as well, as to where your children go to school. I have known folk move house to get into the catchment area for a good school.

Suzan St Maur
11-03-2006, 04:36 PM
My son (14 yrs) goes to a co-ed grammar school in Buckinghamshire, England. Selection is entirely based on ability - social class is not an issue.

We do not live in the school's catchment area so my son had to achieve a slightly higher mark in his entrance test than had we lived around the corner from the school. Also because we are out of catchment I have to pay for his school bus fare (families within catchment go for free.)

If you have any specific questions about grammar schools in England let me have them and I'm sure I could get answers from my son's school.


11-05-2006, 09:35 PM
Some comprehensive schools - not many - are single sex. Some are affiliated to particular religions and might be able to select some of their intake on religious grounds, but not on academic ability.

In areas with a lot of schools where the good ones (whether comprehensive or not) are oversubscribed, those schools have to whittle down their intake somehow, and I'm not sure whether it's ever possible to say that they aren't selective. I never went to school in one of those areas, though. In my town there was one comprehensive school and everybody went to it unless their families paid for them to go somewhere else.

Tish Davidson
11-06-2006, 05:13 AM
Thanks to all for the response. It does sound complicated by both changing times and location of the school, but you provided the basic information I needed.