Grammar Schools in Harrow: A Parent’s Guide

If you’re considering a state-funded grammar school education for your child, you might be wondering about the options available near Harrow.

In this guide, we explain what grammar schools actually are, and the options for your child in Harrow and the surrounding areas. From admissions processes to test preparation, here’s everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your child’s future.

What is a grammar school?

A grammar school is a type of state-funded secondary school in England.

These schools select pupils based on academic ability, with an entrance exam (commonly known as the 11 Plus) used to gain admission. Because they’re state-funded, this means parents don’t have to pay any fees for their child’s place.

They can be single-sex or co-educational, and often have a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and pastoral care.

Given the lack of fees, supportive atmosphere and strong academic record, it’s no surprise grammar schools are a popular choice for many parents. So, what schools are there to choose from?

How many grammar schools are there in the UK?

There are 163 grammar schools throughout England. 19 of these schools are found in Greater London, with the rest spread across 36 other local authorities. These schools offer a rigorous academic curriculum that prepares students for university and a wide range of future careers.

While there are a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, there are no grammar schools in Scotland or Wales.

In terms of catchment area, most grammar schools only accept children living in the local area. Despite this, some grammar schools take applicants no matter where they live in the country.

Whichever grammar school you’re applying to, admissions are highly competitive – so it pays to plan ahead and start preparations early.

Are there any grammar schools in Harrow?

While Harrow is home to the famous Harrow School (one of the country’s leading independent boarding schools), there aren’t any grammar schools in Harrow. In good news for parents though, two of the best grammar schools in the country are located in nearby Barnet. These schools are Queen Elizabeth’s Boys Grammar School and Henrietta Barnett Grammar School for Girls.

As well as Queen Elizabeth’s and Henrietta Barnett, St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is also a fantastic option in Barnet. It’s a girls’ grammar school with a Roman Catholic faith designation, meaning priority is given to Catholic students during admissions. Nonetheless, the school also accepts students of other faiths, or no faith. 

If you’re applying to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School or Henrietta Barnett Grammar School, it’s important to know each school has different entry and examination requirements. 

We’ve previously written a guide (linked above) to each school’s admissions process, but you should also check individual websites for the most up to date information.

What grammar schools are near Harrow?

There are a few other grammar schools near Harrow to choose from.

Latymer School is a highly regarded co-educational grammar school located in Edmonton, a district in the London Borough of Enfield. It consistently ranks as one of the top-performing state schools in the country, with an exceptional record of sending students to top universities including Oxford, Cambridge, and the Ivy League schools in the US. 

Like the schools we’ve already discussed, Latymer School is highly selective and admission is based on academic ability. Prospective students must take the school’s 11+ exam and also undergo an interview process. 

If you’re willing to relocate (to increase your chances of gaining admission to a grammar school), you could also consider schools in the Slough Consortium. There’s a fantastic choice, including:

In more good news, because these schools are all part of a single consortium, they have the same registration and 11+ tests. This means your child only needs to sit one exam (as opposed to four separate tests) to be considered for admission across all the schools.

Another popular option for anyone in Harrow willing to move, is applying to one of the many grammar schools in Buckinghamshire. These schools include:

Each of these Buckinghamshire grammars has an excellent reputation for academic achievement. Like all grammar schools up and down the country, admission is highly competitive. You’ll also need to consult each individual school’s website for admissions criteria.

Are there any partially selective schools near Harrow?

A further option would be applying to one of the “partially selective” schools within the South West Herts Consortium.

A partially selective school refers to schools combining selective admission (i.e., based on academic ability with 11+ tests) and non-selective admission (i.e., based on location and proximity to the school). These schools have a specific number of places reserved for students who perform well on entrance exams, while the remaining places are offered to students who live in the school’s catchment area or meet other criteria. 

We’ve previously written a guide to 2024 admissions and 11 Plus Exams for the South West Herts Consortium, so take a look at this. But in short, these schools include:

You could also consider another partially selective option, Mill Hill County High School in the London borough of Barnet. Established in 1953, the school has a designated number of places available for students’ demonstrating aptitude in technology, music, or dance (assessed through their entrance tests).

How to prepare for 11 Plus entrance tests

As we’ve seen, each school has their own unique requirements for 11 Plus admission. For instance, while Queen Elizabeth’s Boys School sets tests in Maths and English, academic aptitude tests for the South West Herts Consortium consist of Maths and Verbal Reasoning.

So the first thing you need to do is research your options carefully and check the admissions criteria on each school’s website.

Lots of schools use tests provided by GL Assessment, who provide a range of free familiarisation papers on their website. These are great for helping your child feel confident with a range of 11+ papers and question types – and it’s never too early to start practising!

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Start early: Begin preparations early to give your child enough time to learn and practise the skills required for 11+ exams. Most students begin preparing one to two years in advance.
  • Build vocabulary: Encourage your child to read widely and build their vocabulary by introducing them to a range of books, newspapers, and other materials.
  • Practice speed: 11+ exams are designed to test how quickly and accurately students complete questions. Practice timed exercises and encourage your child to work on improving their speed while maintaining accuracy.
  • Develop problem-solving skills: 11+ exams require strong problem-solving skills, including the ability to understand complex concepts and apply them to new situations. Encourage your child to practise problem-solving exercises and to approach questions logically and systematically.
  • Make the most of past papers: Use past papers to help your child become familiar with the types of questions they can expect on the exam. This helps build their confidence and reduce anxiety. You can normally find past papers on school websites, but there are also plenty available online and from bookstores.
  • Keep a positive attitude: Encourage your child to stay positive and motivated throughout the preparation process. Celebrate their achievements and progress, reminding them that hard work and practice can lead to success.

How Achieve Learning can help your child’s 11 Plus preparation

Achieve Learning offers a range of tutoring services to assist students and parents in their preparations for 11 Plus exams. From one-to-one tutoring and bespoke revision plans, to mock exam practice and personalised consultancy, you’ll be supported every step of the way.

Whether you’re applying to grammar schools Harrow or elsewhere in the country, book a free assessment today to discuss your child’s needs and discover how Achieve Learning can help.