Selective education guide – Torbay


Torbay has three grammar schools which educate a very high proportion of higher attaining students from Torbay itself and the surrounding area.

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 Torbay. View the map 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.


  • 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 Torbay

31% of Torbay’s secondary school pupils attend a grammar school. This is a high proportion and means the impact on the pupil population of surrounding schools is significant.

The Department for Education classes Torbay as a ‘highly selective area.’ Although the DfE acknowledges that selective areas such as Torbay are offering a different type of education than other areas of England, the impact of a local authority educating its pupils in an alternative education system is never scrutinised. The lack of checks and reporting requirements means the full impact of a selective school system cannot be fully understood. There are many aspects of selection which remain shrouded in secrecy.

A social divide in Torbay’s secondary schools

In common with all grammar schools, disadvantaged pupils are underrepresented in Torbay grammar schools.

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 Torbay

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 read more information about Torbay grammar schools and the 11-plus by visiting the Torquay Boys’ grammar school, Torquay Girls’ grammar school and Churston Ferrers grammar school websites.

Want to end the 11-plus in Torbay?

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.