There are many types of school in the UK. Broadly speaking, these can be split into two groups – state schools, which are free for students to attend as they are funded by the government, and private schools, which require parents to pay a fee in order for their children to attend. However, there are many other subgroups, including grammar schools, and it is often difficult to work out where exactly these fit into the education system.
Grammar schools are different to other schools in various way. For example, they ask prospective students to sit an admissions test before offering them a place, and may have a more rigorous academic curriculum, such as teaching separate strands of science from Year 7. This article will focus on the fees associated with attending a grammar school compared to other types of schools in the UK.
By definition, grammar schools are state-funded, meaning students do not have to pay fees to attend. However, there are some exceptions. Some grammar schools have an option for students to board with them. These schools charge fees for the accommodation (typically £10,000 to £18,000 per year), but the education itself is still government-funded and therefore free for students. Additionally, some private schools use the term ‘grammar school’ in their name, although they may not officially be a grammar school as they are not state-funded. These private schools charge their own fees for both education and, if applicable, boarding.
Although the grammar schools in the UK are state-funded, there are many misconceptions around this topic. Keep reading for a more detailed guide to the fees that are involved for students attending a grammar school.
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How much does it cost to go to a grammar school?
Grammar schools are funded by the government, so the education students receive is free. Many people assume that, due to their selective admissions policy, grammar schools in the UK charge a fee in the same way as private schools do – however, this is not the case.
Private schools are not funded by the government, the majority of their funding for the school site, staff, resources etc. comes from the fees parents pay to the school for their children to be educated there. Often, private schools are renowned for high quality teaching and facilities available to their students. The schools often say they charge high fees which are representative of the excellent opportunity’s students are provided with throughout their time with the school.
Check out this article to learn more about the cost of private schools.
However, no matter the quality of education, this cost is unrealistic for the majority of families in the UK. Grammar schools generally aim to provide the same high level of education as private schools at no cost, allowing access to the best education for high-performing students regardless of their economic or social background.
As with other state secondary schools (sometimes called comprehensive schools), there are other costs associated with a student’s education. This may include daily lunch, school trips, and instrumental music lessons. However, all of these are considerably less expensive than the costs people usually imagine are required for a grammar school education. These costs can all be subsidised by bursaries if necessary. Ultimately, attending a grammar school is no more expensive than attending any other state school, as they focus on academic ability when selecting their students, not financial background.
How much do boarding grammar schools’ cost?
In a boarding school, students have the option to live on the school site, often for whole terms. There are comparatively few boarding schools in the UK – approximately 500, compared with about 4,000 secondary schools – and the majority of these are private schools. There are about 40 state boarding schools in the UK. At these schools, the education is fully funded by the government, but parents pay for their child’s accommodation, usually including meals and various after school activities. For more information on state boarding schools, see this article by The Good Schools Guide. Also, check out this Think Student article.
Some of these state boarding schools are grammar schools, requiring students to take an entrance test before offering them a place. This test is called the 11 Plus exam, more can be found out below. Therefore, boarding schools are a type of grammar school for which there are fees. Typically, these are in the range of £10,000 to £18,000 per school year, for full time boarding.
Many of these schools offer places for day students, the prices of which vary depending on the school. Some offer free places for day students attending normal school hours (around 9:00 to 3:30), and then going home, as they would in a non-boarding school. Others have day places available where students stay later than this, often having an evening meal with the boarding students, which can provide a convenient form of childcare for busy, working parents. In this case, the school usually charges fees to cover the cost of whatever activities and food is provided after school hours, but this is considerably cheaper than the cost of boarding full time with the school.
Essentially, at grammar boarding schools, the education is still state-funded, but there are fees involved for students making use of the boarding facilities.
What is a grammar school?
In the UK, a grammar school is a state secondary school which selects its students based on academic ability, usually through an entrance test called the 11 Plus. For more information on this exam, see this article from Think Student.
Grammar schools were much more common in the 20th century – now, they are found more frequently in some counties than others. For example, Lincolnshire, Kent and Birmingham have plenty of grammar schools, while other areas have none. In Wales and Scotland, there are no grammar schools, but instead a comprehensive system (although some schools still have the word ‘grammar’ in their title, despite being non-selective and therefore no difference to comprehensive state schools).
However, despite their small number, grammar schools are often very popular and oversubscribed, as they generally produce higher exam results than other secondary schools, as well as more students going on to further study at university level. But grammar schools are not the perfect fit for everyone. This article from Think Student provides a full guide to grammar schools, including advantages and disadvantages, as well as information on applications, to help if you are deciding whether a grammar school would be the best option for you.
Are grammar schools private?
The short answer to this is no, grammar schools are not private – they are state schools by definition. However, some private schools across the country have the term ‘grammar school’ in their name, such as Loughborough Grammar School and Wolverhampton Grammar School, which can cause confusion. These schools will almost always require students to sit an entrance test as part of the admissions process. This may seem a similar procedure to the one used by grammar schools – but as these schools are not funded by the government, they are not what would traditionally be classed as a grammar school.
However, it may still be useful to understand the fees involved at these private grammar schools. As with all private education institutions, the costs are much higher than other comprehensive or state grammar schools. For day students, fees are typically around £15,000 per year, which covers the education that would otherwise be state-funded. As well as this, there may be charges for lunch and specific extracurriculars like music tuition, but the main fee is for the schooling.
Boarding students have accommodation during term-time and access to more facilities, often including a wide variety of after school clubs and activities, but at a higher cost of around £40,000 per year. For a more detailed look at private school costs in general, have a look at this article from Think Student.
Overall, the key thing to remember is that a grammar school education in the UK is funded by the government, so is no more expensive than any other comprehensive school. Misconceptions about the cost of grammar schools often arise when they are confused with private schools, or in some cases, with boarding schools (which charge for the additional accommodation provisions).