RECORD numbers of pupils are believed to have sat the 11-plus grammar test on Saturday, September 15, prompting the question whether it’s now even tougher to gain a place at one of the coveted schools.

The grammar school system in Gloucestershire – a controversial education system that selects secondary students on their academic ability - has been ongoing for decades now and this year the competition for places is rising.

See below for everything you need to know about the Gloucestershire grammar school system

Currently there are seven grammar schools in the county – three for boys, one for girls and one co-educational school.

Only last year it was reported that 2,000 pupils across the county sat the 11-plus test, but according to published test information, 2018 number rose to a staggering 2,500 children who sat the test on Saturday, September 15.

Both Pates Grammar School and The Crypt School struggled with the rise and were unable to seat all the candidates, which meant a significant number of children, who were already under pressure, had to be reassigned to a different school to sit their test.

In May this year the government announced an extra £50 million to go towards the grammar school system, saying the money for existing schools will create greater choice for parents, and that the new funding will be dependent on grammar schools defining what they will do to increase the number of disadvantaged pupils they admit.

However, critics say that grammar schools actually reduce social mobility, with the Liberal Democrat education spokesman Layla Moran recently saying that grammar schools are a form of “state sponsored segregation.”

In the county, despite the 11-plus exam being changed in Gloucestershire schools five years ago to try and make it more accessible - and both Marling and Stroud High School recently increasing their Year 7 admissions intake from 120 pupils to 150 pupils - the question is now being asked amongst education experts whether even the new test is still disadvantaging state school pupils.

A local tutor who teaches children to pass the 11-plus said: “The test was changed five years ago to try to make it un-tutorable and therefore open to all and a catalyst for social mobility, but this just isn't the case - in fact private primary schools in the county tutor for the test which further compounds the problem.”

“Some of the parents of the children I have taught perceive getting into grammar school as a cheaper alternative to private school, so are willing to pay a lot in tuition as can see long term financial gain.”

The question now is not only are private school children flooding the grammar school system, but how sustainable is the system if already schools are literally struggling to seat candidates - and this is before the pupils go through the complicated process of knowing if they done enough to not only pass the exam, but then to get into the school of their choice.

Rebecca Hickman, vice chair of Comprehensive Future, an organisation aiming to end the 11-plus exam, said, “Prioritising disadvantaged children in oversubscription criteria doesn’t work because these children don’t pass the 11-plus in the first place.”

All Gloucestershire grammar schools were contacted for comment.

The results of the Gloucestershire 11-plus test are published on Friday, October 12.

Everything you need to know about the Gloucestershire grammar school system

  • There are seven grammar schools in the county, three for girls, three for boys and one for both
  • They select their pupils through a test, known as the 11-plus, which is taken by pupils in the last year of primary school
  • Parents can register their child to take the test by completing an online registration form, which is found on any of the seven schools' websites
  • Children can sit the test at any Gloucestershire grammar school - it doesn't have to be the one they wont to go to, although most people sit it at their selected school
  • Five years ago, the test changed from what was called verbal (long logic questions) and some non-verbal reasoning (Mensa-style visual questions and puzzles)
  • The new test consists of English comprehension, maths problems, plus some non-verbal and verbal reasoning - the schools changed to this to try and make the test 'non-tutorable'
  • The Gloucestershire entrance test is made up of two papers, each approximately 45-50 minutes long, both completed on the same day
  • Each school has its own pass rates, but passing the exam does not guarantee a place, as competition is fierce, especially if the overall results are high
  • Test candidates do not have to live in the county to sit the test or to go to a Gloucestershire grammar school.