Grammar School pupil numbers have soared to their highest level for two decades, official figures have revealed.

The number of pupils aged between 11 and 15 attending one has grown by 7% since 2010 to reach nearly 120,000.

Those figures, however, don’t include Sixth Formers whose numbers are also rapidly increasing.

Researchers say that having 7,600 pupils added to the Grammar School roll is the equivalent of building 11 average sized schools.

The National Grammar Schools’ Association (NGSA) says the new figures are the highest since 1998 when the Labour government introduced a law to prevent any new Grammar Schools from being built in England.

Grammar Schools have been increasing the number of available places

However, the numbers have steadily risen because the Grammar Schools have been increasing the number of available places to meet growing parental demand.

Now the supporters of selective education say that the increasing numbers reveal the need for the current government to revive their commitment to introducing laws to enable the building of new Grammar Schools.

The NGSA’s treasurer, Philip Bosworth, said: “The figures will certainly be a record and the schools are over-subscribed.”

He added that parents are increasingly keen for their children to sit the 11+ exam.

Mr Bosworth also said that the growing numbers indicate a need for new schools, particularly in 75% of England which have no Grammars available currently.

While there are 3,000 state secondary schools available, there are just 163 Grammar Schools.

Growth in those attending grammar schools

In a BBC study, researchers found that the growth in those attending Grammar School is outpacing the growth in the number of 11 to 15-year-olds with most local authorities.

Their findings also reveal that some schools have doubled their pupil intake over recent years and one, Alcester Grammar in Warwickshire, has seen its pupil numbers grow to 750 from 450.

However, the opponents of selective education say that the quality of education within non-selective secondary schools is being affected by increasing the number of places available in Grammars.

The Education Policy Institute’s Jon Andrews said: “Research shows that with the number of Grammar School places increasing in an area, the penalty increases for those who miss out on going to a Grammar School.”

Another 6,900 extra pupils attending Grammar Schools in 2020-21

The BBC survey also reveals that should the intake for Grammar Schools remain the same as it was for 2016-17, there will be another 6,900 extra pupils attending them in 2020-21.

They say this is the equivalent of 10 average size grammar schools and, overall, it’s a 13% rise in the number of pupils but without having any new schools being built for them.

Grammar Schools also tend to receive lower funding per pupil than other schools and they admit fewer pupils from a poor background so there’s no ‘pupil premium’ with top-up funding available.


More information

The BBC’s research on the growing number of Grammar School pupils in England.