United Kingdom / North West England / Lancashire / Manchester Grammar School

Manchester Grammar School Review

Manchester Grammar School is a large all-boys city school with over 1,600 students which attracts some of the most academic and bright male students in Northern England.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 14,000
Annual fees
GBP 13,980–13,980
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1515
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Martin Boulton
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Manchester Grammar School
School type
Private
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2021/22
No data
Availability 2022/23
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 14,000
Annual fees
GBP 13,980–13,980
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1515
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Martin Boulton
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Manchester Grammar School is a large all-boys city school with over 1,600 students which attracts some of the most academic and bright male students in Northern England.

Founded in 1515, Manchester Grammar School (MGS) is the largest independent day school for boys in the UK. With a reputation for academic excellence, this all-boys school for seven to 18-year olds consistently performs well above average in GCSE and A Level results and has an excellent track record of preparing boys for the UK’s top universities.

Located in Greater Manchester, the school has high academic expectations and is a school for motivated and able, keen and interested students. Thanks to a generous bursary programme (there's around 220 boys out of 1,500 at MGS receiving bursaries), the school community is diverse as well as international.

The school’s motto is 'Sapere aude', which translates as 'dare to be wise'; it’s a motto that guides the school's focus on scholarship and independent thought. And a motto that drives so many boys to progress onto Oxbridge and other leading Russell Group universities. Headmaster Martin Boulton, a former MGS student, describes the school as being for “ambitious boys with enquiring minds”. 

Curriculum

MGS prides itself on offering a rich and creative curriculum that "extends far beyond the limitations of the National Curriculum for England". While the education at the school is academically rigorous and challenging, it is also broad and flexible. As well as teaching a core curriculum in the junior school, the school has designed a timetable to include skill-based activities and an options programme that offers a variety of activities ranging from robotics to entrepreneurship. 

Languages are seen as hugely important, and boys study Spanish in Year 3, French in Year 4, Latin in Year 5 and Italian in Year 6. There is also a huge electronics department, where students work on projects including a sonar walking stick for the visually impaired, a car collision avoidance system, a chicken feeder, or a music-activated lock.

The school takes full advantage of being an all-through school by making use of shared facilities and specialist teachers within junior school lessons. As students move up into the Senior School, they cover a wide range of subjects taught by subject specialists and there’s flexibility of choice, allowing boys to pursue particular interests when choosing GCSE and A Level options. There’s the freedom to study as many as four languages for GCSE/IGCSE, for example.

Throughout the school, boys are supported by a personal tutor; thanks to small tutor groups of no more than 12 students, there is a real opportunity to teachers to get to know the needs and strengths of every student. 

Sport and the arts

Sport is a big deal at MGS. From Junior School upwards, boys play rugby, football, hockey, and cricket, as well as swimming and water polo.

The school has national success stories in water polo teams, swimming, gymnastics, football, cricket, rugby and hockey, and there’s certainly no shortage of trophies on show in the sports department here. It doesn’t offer sports scholarships, but does develop rising talent through an Elite Performer Programme 

There’s a strong arts community too, and alumni include Sir Ben Kingsley, Robert Powell, Sir Nicholas Hytner and Chris Addison. The school has some excellent arts facilities for lessons, rehearsals and productions, of which there are many every year.

Music is a popular subject at GCSE and A Level, and there’s huge interest in the many music groups run in the the co-curriculum. Nearly 30% of students have music tuition in school, and over half of these are learning more than one instrument.  Facilities include a bespoke music block with practice rooms (with Boston Steinway upright pianos) and rehearsal spaces, and a 600-seat Memorial Hall which is equipped with a Steinway Model D piano. Other arts facilities include: a photographic dark room, pottery with wheels, specialist computers with design packages and printers, a 3D printer and laser cutter, screen printing facilities, and printing presses.

Beyond the classroom

Believing that “what boys experience beyond the classroom is as important and life-enhancing as what they learn in it”, MGS offers a wide programme of co-curricular activities. This is a school that doesn’t just want boys to leave with A grades (although many do), it wants them to be well-rounded, confident young men with interests and skills that reach beyond exam results.

There are opportunities to be adventurous; there are three annual treks – Scottish, Foreign and Desert – held every year, and there are free Mountain Activity Days every Saturday during term time. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is also hugely popular here, with over 180 boys each year taking part. While these boys may be among the country’s brightest, they are certainly not spending every day with their head in a book.

Academic results

The school has not published its 2021 results.

2020 A Level results: 97% of all grades were A*-B, with a third of all grades (46%) at A*, 85% of all grades were A*-A. There are the highest numbers of students here taking maths and the sciences, as well as geography and politics.

2020 GCSE results: 93% of grades were either grade 9, 8 or 7 and 77% of grades were either 9 or 8.

The list of leavers’ destinations is impressive; the majority of boys go on to study at leading Russell Group universities, with large numbers going on to Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial, Warwick, Bristol and Durham.

Admission and fees

Entrance to MGS is selective, and students sit an entrance exam from Year 7 upwards. Junior School students gain automatic entry to the Senior School; all other students applying to the Senior School will sit an entrance exam.

To help settle in new students, there’s a postcode 'buddy system', which can help with travel arrangements making friends before term even starts.

Annual fees are £13,980. Means-tested bursaries are available.

Our view

Good for: This high achieving single sex senior school is ideal for boys with a real passion for learning - and who relish being challenged, both academically and in the arts, especially so for budding musicians. Parents are attracted to the school because it prepares students for entry to most some of the most prestigious universities country; while MGS is very academic, it also deliver very high quality extra-curricular activities and understands the importance to be well-rounded. Parents deterred by the annual fees of nearly £14,000 will be pleased to know that the school offers means-tested bursaries of up to 100%. 

Not for: As a single-sex school, parents who prefer a co-ed education can certainly rule this school out. Its city centre location will not appeal to families looking for a country school with acres of green grass, although they shouldn't dismiss the benefits of being so close to all the theatres, galleries and museums that a city can offer. 

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