Lots of people believe that grammar schools and private schools are the same thing. This is because they both normally produce bright, high-achieving students. However, there are some major differences between the two. One of these differences is crucial because it involves how each type of school is funded. You may be under the impression that grammar schools are expensive to go to and that students have to pay when this is not necessarily the case.
Contrary to the belief of some people, grammar schools are funded by the state. This means they are run in the same way that comprehensive schools are in terms of receiving money from the government to run the school from day to day. They are the only state-funded type of school that is selective, meaning they can choose their pupils based on academic ability. Comprehensive schools are not selective, so any pupil can attend these.
Read on to discover how grammar schools are funded and how this is changing. You may be surprised at what you read!
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Are grammar schools funded by the government?
Yes, all grammar schools are purely funded by the government’s education budget, despite what you may think. Private schools are the only schools that charge students fees and can often be confused with grammar schools. To find out more about the fees charged at private schools, check out this article.
All state funded schools receive two different payments from the government. The first is revenue funding. This is the core funding that every school needs for essentials such as teacher salaries. The second payment is capital funding. This money is used for the running costs of the building.
In this way, grammar schools are very similar to comprehensive schools. However, the difference is that grammar schools only offer places to the most academically successful students. The pupils must take an entry exam to prove that they have potential.
For this reason, grammar schools are harder to get into. This doesn’t mean to say that it is impossible, and there are still massively ranging abilities at private schools. However, if you don’t do well under pressure, a state school may be better for you.
Are Grammar schools free?
Due to the fact that grammar schools are funded by the government, they do not cost any money to attend. There are a few grammar schools in the UK offering boarding facilities which must be paid for. However, the actual teaching is absolutely free.
This is because the point of a grammar school is to help those students with excellent academic ability who may not be as wealthy as others. It means those with lots of potential still have a chance at a brilliant education. Check out this Think Student article to find out more about what a grammar school actually is and its purpose.
This may seem too good to be true, having a school which offers excellent education and is completely free. However, you must be aware that grammar schools tend to be inaccessible in terms of the expected academic standard.
Grammar schools require you to take the 11 Plus exam in order to get in, which separates the academically challenged from those who excel. Click here to find out more about the 11 plus exam and what it involves.
This is a very difficult exam, meaning that lots of the pupils who get in only do so because they have been tutored. If you’re being tutored then the entry to grammar schools may cost some money, but once you’ve got it, the tuition is obviously free. Some students can pass without tutoring but having that extra practice does help a lot. Places for grammar schools are usually very competitive, so having some help on the side can be really useful.
How does the funding differ between grammar and comprehensive schools?
Grammar schools provide higher quality education than comprehensive schools. On average, they produce pupils with higher GCSE and A-level results. However, you may be shocked to hear that grammar schools normally receive less funding than comprehensive schools!
Of course, this depends on the area, as schools in deprived areas are more likely to receive better funding from the government. However, on average, the comprehensive schools in these deprived areas will then receive ever more funding on top.
This is because most of the pupils from grammar schools are not from as disadvantaged a background as pupils in state schools tend to be. This means less money is needed for necessities such as free school meals. Therefore, they receive less funding.
To calculate how much money each school receives, the government uses local funding formulas. These consider different factors that affect how much money a school can receive. For example, a school with a large amount of disadvantaged pupils from poorer backgrounds will receive more money from the government.
The amount a school can obtain is calculated per student and these figures show wide variation between the different schools. Therefore, using this formula, grammar schools end up receiving less funding from the government as compared to comprehensive schools. For more information on the differences between grammar and public schools, read this article from the government website.
Is the funding for grammar schools changing?
As you have seen, grammar schools on average receive less funding than comprehensive schools. However, the government has made a pledge to increase funding in a number of grammar schools on the condition that the schools offer more places to disadvantaged pupils.
The grammar schools agreed to decrease the pass mark for the 11 plus exam and began to prioritise pupils who use pupil premium. If you are unsure of what pupil premium is, you can read more about it in this governmental article.
Pupils who wanted to apply but didn’t have enough money for tutors were able to receive free entrance test preparation materials. They were also offered mentoring from other students, in the school sixth form. This meant that pupils from deprived backgrounds had the chance to attend high quality schools and so the funding increase led to equal opportunities for all.
Why are some people against the increase in grammar school funding?
Historically, grammar schools are known to be underfunded institutions. This has led to the government’s pledge, offering an increase in funding. However, a large amount of people believe that this shouldn’t be allowed, as they think that this extra money should be given to state schools.
These people disagree with the fact that grammar schools only accept academically successful pupils. All other schools will continue to achieve lower GCSE results as a result. Although many schools pledged to accept more disadvantaged pupils, some people believe that grammar schools are still not putting in enough effort.
The compromise is that grammar schools offer free preparation material to these disadvantaged children so they can still select students with the best 11 Plus scores. Disadvantaged pupils will naturally score lower despite the free extra help. They still don’t have access to the same opportunities that wealthier students’ do.
To tackle this, some Grammar schools have made major changes to their selection processes. For example, choosing pupil premium students first based on their pass mark and not where they come from or where they live. You can find more information about this debate on the BBC website if you click here.
As you can see, grammar school funding is a highly controversial topic. Sadly, they normally only offer places to children from wealthier families even though there are no fees to be paid. However, the hope is that this will change in the future.
Hopefully this article has changed your perception of grammar schools, as you can see that they do not require you to pay a set fee. Instead, they are state-funded, so don’t hesitate to apply and sit that 11 Plus exam! To find out when you can apply, check out this Think Student article.