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11 Plus Regions

The 11 Plus is important only in regions with available grammar schools, but their distribution varies widely. Explore the reasons behind this uneven distribution

How Many Grammar Schools Are There In My Region?

The number of grammar schools in your region will be much more dependent upon politics than on population. It is the schools and Local Education Authorities (LEAs) in your area that determine whether or not grammar schools have a place in your local education system.

To set the scene, let's first look at a table that shows the total number of schools in areas where grammar schools exist. If your region is not on the list then you have no grammar schools and the 11 Plus will be of little interest to you. For those who do have grammar schools, we have given the aggregated Ofsted ratings for each region so that you can compare your region with others.

Region Total Ofsted Ofsted
  Schools Outstanding Good
Berkshire 6 6  
Buckinghamshire 13 10 3
Cumbria 1   1
Devon 7 3 4
Dorset 4 3 1
Essex 8 7 1
Gloucestershire 7 4 3
Greater London - Barnet 3 2 1
Greater London - Bexley 4 2 2
Greater London - Bromley 2 2  
Greater London - Enfield 1   1
Greater London - Kingston upon Thames 2 1 1
Greater London - Redbridge 2   2
Greater London - Sutton 5 3 2
Greater Manchester 7 4 3
Kent 38 16 21
Lancashire 4 1 2
Lincolnshire 15 4 9
Merseyside 7 2 5
North Yorkshire 3   3
Shropshire 2 1 1
Staffordshire 1   1
Warwickshire 5 4 1
West Midlands 11 10 1
West Yorkshire 3 1 2
Wiltshire 2 1 1
Total 163 87 72

The table above demonstrates the peculiarities of the system and raises a number of questions…

Which Areas Have the Best Grammar School Ofsted Ratings?

Berkshire is top of the tree with all 6 of its grammar schools being rated as "Outstanding". The West Midlands comes a close second with 90% "Outstanding".

Do Any Grammar Schools Have a Poor Ofsted Rating?

Nearly 98% of grammar schools are rated by Ofsted as either "Good" or "Outstanding". Only four schools fall outside of these results and they are not shown in the above table. Three schools are rated as "Requires Improvement" – one in Kent, one in Lancashire and one in Lincolnshire. Just one school (in Lincolnshire) gets the lowly "Special Measures" rating. Please see the Ofsted Grammar Schools table for details of individual schools.

Why Are There so Many Grammar Schools in Kent?

Kent holds less than 4% of the English population but has more than 23% of the grammar schools. Here are a few of the reasons:

  • Tradition – the county has a long history of grammar schools
  • The Butler Act of 1944 – This legislation favoured selective education and Kent firmly embraced it
  • Proximity to London – Citizens of our capital are great advocates for selective education
  • Local authority politics - The elected politicians in Kent are champions of the grammar school system and over the years have fought hard for its continuance


Why are There so Few Grammar Schools in Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire?

These areas have significant populations but the scarcity of grammar schools can be largely attributed to these factors:

  • History – the areas in the industrial north have a long tradition of striving for equal opportunities and the grammar school system is an anathema
  • Politics – comprehensive education is mainly encouraged and selective education is opposed
  • Parental preferences – In general, parents living in the north of the country prefer the comprehensive system
  • Grammar schools are expensive - It costs more to setup and run grammar schools and it is often thought that the money is better spent elsewhere


Do All Schools in a Region Use the Same 11 Plus Test Papers?

Broadly speaking, schools adhere to a consistent policy within any one area. For example, all 8 grammar schools in Essex use the FSCE test papers while all 13 grammar schools in Buckinghamshire use GL Assessment. However, individual schools still have a degree of autonomy - in Berkshire, five schools use GL Assessment but one school sets its own in-house papers. See 11 Plus Exam Providers for more details.

What Proportion of Secondary Schools are Grammar Schools?

In England there are approximately 24,400 schools and approximately 3,450 of these are secondary schools. Given that there are 163 grammar schools, we can deduce that only 5% of all secondary schools are grammar schools.

Can My Child Take the 11 Plus in a Different Area?

It is highly unlikely that a grammar school in one area will give credence to the 11 Plus results achieved in a different area. Each school awards places on the basis of competition within its own area and it is difficult for them to compare their own results with those of other areas in order to make fair decisions.

The National Curriculum ensures a degree of consistency about the subjects that are taught nationwide but no such consistency exists for grammar school acceptance criteria.

When we Move Area, Can My Child Continue with Grammar School Education?

You will probably find that the grammar schools in your new area will already be over-subscribed so it will be difficult to secure a place. However, it might be worth talking to both your existing school and new potential schools to see if a solution can be found.

What are the Best Grammar Schools in England?

In December 2023, The Sunday Times published a list of the best grammar schools based on a combination of GCSE and A Level results. You can see a neat presentation of the results at the Atom Learning Website The top 10 are as follows:

  1. Wilson's School (Sutton, London)
  2. Queen Elizabeth's School (Barnet, London)
  3. The Henrietta Barnett School (Barnet, London)
  4. Pate's Grammar School (Gloucestershire)
  5. St Olave's Grammar School (Bromley, London)
  6. Colchester Royal Grammar School (Essex)
  7. The Tiffin Girls' School (Kingston upon Thames, London)
  8. Reading School (Berkshire)
  9. King Edward VI School (Warwickshire)
  10. Altrincham Grammar School for Girls (Greater Manchester)

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