Selective education guide – Plymouth


There are three grammar schools in Plymouth. Check out our map of selective schools in England to find out more about these schools, The map gives the percentage of disadvantaged pupils, the percentage of pupils attending a grammar school who are likely to have come from a fee-paying ‘prep’ school, and the relative selectivity of every grammar school in Plymouth. View the map HERE.

Or, to read stories from parents and teachers experiencing selective education in Plymouth visit the 11+ Anonymous site HERE.


In every area where academic selection still exists there are some common problems. For example,

  • Grammar schools admit fewer disadvantaged pupils than non-selective schools. Grammar schools are also more likely to admit pupils from more advantaged families.


  • A significant number of pupils previously educated in fee-paying ‘prep’ schools take up grammar school places. In Plymouth grammar schools between 6-8% of pupils have been privately educated.


  • Tuition for the 11-plus ‘buys advantage’. Better-off families can afford private coaching while poorer families may feel compelled to pay for tuition they can ill afford.


  • Sitting the 11-plus is stressful and can damage a child’s confidence.


  • The 11-plus has been proven to lack accuracy because it takes place while children are still developing academically.


  • Research shows the proportion of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) attending grammar schools is small. For many children with additional learning needs such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorders, the 11-plus test is inaccessible. The same children often perform very well academically outside a test situation.


  • Grammar schools change the pupil profile of other schools in the area. If a large number of higher attaining pupils attend grammar schools then surrounding schools find themselves with a pupil population which is skewed, with a disproportionate amount of moderate and lower attaining pupils and pupils with additional learning needs This impacts on subject choice (fewer subjects available than at a grammar school) and teacher recruitment. Non-selective schools in areas with grammar schools cannot be ‘true’ comprehensives and tend to underperform compared to comprehensive schools.


  • GCSE results in areas with grammar schools are on a par with, or worse than, areas that have only comprehensive schools. Research has shown that children who attend selective schools would achieve broadly the same results if they attended a comprehensive school.

The percentage of pupils attending grammar schools in Plymouth

Around 16% of secondary school pupils in Plymouth attend selective schools. Although not as high as in some selective areas, this has an impact on the pupil population in surrounding schools. Plymouth is a disadvantaged area and therefore the damaging effects of selection are exacerbated.

A social divide in Plymouth secondary schools

In common with all grammar schools, disadvantaged pupils are underrepresented in Plymouth’s grammars. As a result, the county’s non-selective schools educate a far greater proportion of pupils on free school meals.

Many academics argue that a selective education system risks creating the kind of divisions which go beyond the schools themselves and can affect the wider community more generally.

Results are poor for disadvantaged pupils in Plymouth

In areas with a high proportion of selective schools, a ‘secondary modern’ effect is created. Non-selective schools in selective areas educate a disproportionate number of disadvantaged and moderate and lower attaining pupils. Performance therefore tends to be lower in these schools than for comprehensives in non-selective areas.

The 11-plus damages children’s confidence

Many children feel demotivated by a ‘fail’ in the 11-plus. We believe all children should start secondary school feeling positive about their academic ability. The success of non-selective schools in most areas of the country proves that there is no need to divide children by using an outdated and discredited test.

More information

You can find more information about Plymouth grammar schools, including 11-plus test dates, on the Plymouth Council website.

Want to end the 11-plus in Plymouth?

Join Comprehensive Future’s campaign to end the 11-plus.


To learn about the data sources for our interactive map and selective education guides click here. If you spot any errors in the data for any area, please let us know.