Exploring Grammar Schools in Watford: A Parent’s Guide

So, you’re diving into the world of secondary education for your child? Exciting times. 

The move to secondary is an incredibly important transition in your child’s life. There are so many options to choose between, from state to private, grammars and academies. And of course, you want to find the perfect fit for your child.

With high academic standards and no fees, grammar schools are unsurprisingly one of the most popular choices.

To help your decision, here’s everything you need to know about Watford’s grammar schools. From catchment areas to entrance exams, results and rankings, we’ve got you covered with this parent-friendly guide.

Are there any Grammar Schools in Watford?

Watford has two excellent grammar schools: Watford Grammar School for Boys and Watford Grammar School for Girls. These schools have shaped bright young minds and provided a supportive yet challenging educational environment for many years. They’re well respected and highly sought after for good reason.

Did you know there are just 163 grammar schools in the country?

Some are “fully selective” with admissions based on a combination of academic ability and home address. Others (like Watford Grammar Schools) are “partially selective” with a certain percentage of places based on academic ability and home address, while the rest are “community places” assigned according to where you live.

To find out more about how grammar schools work and whether this unique environment is right for your child, take a look at our introductory blog.

Does Hertfordshire have Grammar Schools?

As well as Watford’s two outstanding Grammar Schools, Hertfordshire is home to another five partially selective schools.

These schools are all part of the South West Hertfordshire Consortium. They include:

There are also a few other partially selective schools in Hertfordshire. Even though they aren’t part of the South West Hertfordshire consortium, they’re still highly regarded with some seriously impressive exam results.

They include:

If you’re curious about Grammar Schools in wider Hertfordshire, explore our in-depth guide. As well as a fact file on each school, you’ll find more info on how to apply and support your child’s 11+ journey.

What is the Watford Grammar School catchment area?

Let’s take each in turn.

Watford Grammar School for Boys: Catchment Area

Watford Grammar School for Boys is partially selective. This means 35% of Year 7 places are reserved based on academic and musical ability.

Within these “specialist places”, preference is also given according to your home address. 60% are reserved for those living within the Watford area. The other 40% are reserved for the “rest of the admission area”.

Here are the postcodes included in each category:

Watford area 

  • WD17: 1-4
  • WD18: 0, 6-9
  • WD19: 4-7
  • WD23: 1-7, 9
  • WD24: 4-7, 9
  • WD25: 0, 5, 7-9
  • WD3: 3

Rest of the admission area

  • WD3: 1, 4-9
  • WD4: 8, 9
  • WD5: 0
  • WD6: 3
  • WD7: 7, 8
  • HA3: 6
  • HA5: 1-5
  • HA6: 1-3
  • HA7: 3, 4

As well as musical and academic aptitude, 65% of admissions are “community places”. 

This catchment area includes both Watford and the “rest of the admission area”. All postcodes within this area are treated equally, just like any other state school admissions process.

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping for a spot at Watford Grammar School for Boys but you live outside the admission area – this isn’t likely. In the school’s admissions information, they say the “level of oversubscription” makes it “unlikely that a boy from outside the admission area would be offered a place”.

Watford Grammar School for Girls: Catchment Area

In good news for parents of boys and girls, the catchment area for Watford Grammar School for Girls is exactly the same as the Boys Grammar (listed above).

So that keeps things simple!

They also keep the same number of places reserved for each category. This means:

  • 35% music and academic aptitude places
  • 65% community places

Just like Watford Grammar School for Boys, the Girls Grammar is equally sought-after. If you don’t live within Watford or the wider admissions area – it’s unlikely you’ll get a place.

So, to explain this extraordinary popularity, what is the ranking of Watford Grammar Schools?

What is the Watford Grammar ranking?

Watford Grammar School for Boys ranks 72nd in the UK for academic performance. 42.5% of A Level grades are A* or A while 57.5% of GCSE grades are 7 or higher.

Watford Grammar School for Girls boasts similarly impressive results and rankings. In 2023, 58% of all GCSE results were 7 or higher (just pipping the boys!). A Levels were ever so slightly lower, with 35% of grades either A*s or As. 

Both schools are ranked as “outstanding” by Ofsted. In its most recent 2021 inspection, Watford Boys was described as “remarkably friendly and welcoming” with praise for the boys’ “high-quality work” and “exemplary manners”.

Watford Grammar School for Girls was last inspected in 2007. Similarly judged as outstanding, inspectors praised the “focus on each girl as an individual” as well as the “relentless drive” to help everyone achieve their very best.

Both schools also go above and beyond the national curriculum, always striving for academic excellence.

What score do you need to get into Watford Grammar School?

Neither Watford Boys nor Watford Girls Grammar have a cut-off mark for their entrance exams.

There’s no minimum score to gain admission. Instead, places are offered based on students’ marks in descending order. This means the entry standard changes from year to year.

Remember, anyone applying for a community place (based on your postcode) or a musical aptitude place won’t have to sit the academic ability tests.

While the schools state that preparation for their entrance exams isn’t necessary, you’ll probably want to help your child understand the exam format and get some practice under their belt.

To help, we’ve already written an in-depth guide to the South West Hertfordshire Consortium 11+ exams. You’ll find more information on the format of the exams, past papers, application deadlines and how to help your child feel ready.

But in the meantime, here’s a few extra tips.

What’s the best way to prepare for Watford Grammar School exams?

Here are four key ways to help your child prepare for Watford Grammar School exams.

  • Subject-specific content: Make sure you’re practising both maths and verbal reasoning with your child. These are the only two subjects tested, so you’ll want to make sure your child’s skills are sharp. Focus on understanding key mathematical concepts, problem-solving skills and practising a variety of mathematical and word-based problems.
  • Mock tests: Mock tests and past papers are essential. Whether you’re going with external providers (like us at Achieve Learning) or working on papers at home, simulating the real exam environment helps your child understand time management and eases exam-day nerves. The results also provide invaluable insights into areas your child needs to focus on.
  • Personal tuition: 1-1 tuition is the best way to unlock your child’s potential and unpack their unique strengths and weaknesses. With personalised attention, a tutor can identify areas that need improvement and customise learning plans accordingly. This builds your child’s confidence and makes studying more efficient, positive and ultimately more successful.
  • Building vocabulary: A broad vocabulary is vital for verbal reasoning, as well as your child’s broader education. Have fun reading together with books that challenge their vocabulary and introduce new worlds and ideas. This not only enhances their vocabulary but also improves comprehension and analytical thinking.

Does Watford Grammar School charge fees?

Neither Watford Grammar School for Boys or Watford Grammar School for Girls charge fees. 

Both schools operate as state-funded grammar schools, offering an exceptionally high standard of education without tuition fees. 

While there may be additional costs for things like uniforms, extracurricular activities and school trips, the core education provided by these grammar schools is funded by the state.

Thinking about Watford Grammar Schools for your child?

If you’re considering applying to either Watford Grammar School for Boys or Watford Grammar School for Girls, get in touch with our expert team at Achieve Learning.

From mock exams to personalised 11+ tuition and academic consultancy, we’ll help your child thrive during this important transition to secondary school.