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Grammar school

A grammar school is a type of school found in some English-speaking countries. Its original intent was to educate the young the grammar of one or two European languages.

In the British case, that originally meant Latin and sometimes Greek in addition; and in the the American case, that of English. However, the meaning of the term has since changed considerably, and grammar schools now provide as full an education as any other type of school.

In the United States

In the United States, grammar school now consists of the first seven years of school, that is, grades 1 through 5 or 6, as well as kindergarten, a preliminary year of school before grade 1. Originally, however, it was studied after primary school in the 19th century.

Also known as elementary school in many jurisdictions now, grammar school is a major segment of compulsory education. Until the latter third of the 20th century, however, grammar school (or elementary school) was grades 1 through 8. After grammar school, one usually attends high school. (In many districts, grades 5-8 or 5-9 were called "middle school", or further separated into "intermediate school[?]" and "junior high school[?]".)

In the United Kingdom

Grammar schools date back to earlier than the 16th century.

In the United Kingdom, a grammar school is a secondary school attended by pupils aged 11 to 18 to which entry is controlled by means of an academically selective process consisting, largely or exclusively, of a written examination. After leaving a grammar school, as with any other secondary school, a student may go into further education at a college or university.

The examination is called the eleven plus[?]. Partly due to the failure to fully implement the tri-partite system prescribed by the 1944 Education Act, the examination came to be seen as delivering a pass/fail result with the academically selected pupils passing and attending grammar schools and the remaining pupils being deemed to have failed and being consigned to schools euphemistically designated Secondary Modern Schools[?].

This arrangement proved politically unsustainable, and, over the period 1960 to 1975, non-selective ("comprehensive[?]") education was instituted across a substantial majority of the country. The eleven plus examination had been championed by the educational psychologist Cyril Burt and the uncovering of his fraudulent research played a minor part in accelerating this process.

To understand grammar schools in the UK, some history is needed. After WW2, the government reorganised the secondary schools into two basic types. Secondary moderns were intended for children who would be going into a trade and concentrated on the basics plus practical skills; grammar schools were intended for children who would be going on to higher education and concentrated on the classics, science, etc. This system lasted until the 1960s, at which point it was accepted that it was a discriminatory system which was not getting the best out of all children. this was partly because some authorities tended to prioritise their budgets on the grammar schools, damaging the education prospects of children attending secondary moderns.

The decision was taken to switch to a single type of school designed to give every child a complete education. That is why this new type of school is called a comprehensive school. However the timetable of the changeover was left to the local authorities, some of whom were very resistant to the whole idea and thus dragged their feet for as long as possible. The result is that there is now a mixture. Most authorities run a proper comprehensive system, a few run secondary moderns and grammar schools (except that they've renamed the secondary moderns as "comprehensives").

Most private schools provide the same type of education as a grammar school, but there are exceptions, Gordonstoun for one. In areas where the local authority provides a comprehensive education -- which some parents don't like for various reasons -- independent schools are particularly common.

Other locations

In the 14th century, the English chronicler Ranulf Higden[?] documented that there was a "gramer scole" in Alexandria.

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