The term "grammar school" originated in medieval times when schools were set up to teach Latin grammar to students. Nowadays, the explanation of what a grammar school is depends on where it is located. In the United States, this type of school typically educates children from first grade through fifth or sixth grade, depending on the school system. Some educate children through the eighth grade. This type of school is often called by a more popular term such as "elementary school" or "grade school" and can be a public school or private school.
In Great Britain, a grammar school is a secondary school that educates young people from ages 11 to 18 and follows primary school. This school system excludes Scotland, which has its own system. Other countries that use this system include Australia, Canada and Northern Ireland.
Grammar schools were introduced to the United States by the British during colonial times. The colonial grammar schools originally prepared young men to attend universities and were later broadened in scope and curriculum. Eventually, in the United States, the term came to refer to schools teaching children in earlier grades, and it still is used regionally that way. The curriculum is the same as that of elementary schools and is overseen by each state's department of education.
In Great Britain, the state grammar school system originally was based on academic selection; generally the top 25 percent of students were admitted. Much of this changed in the latter part of the 20th century with the move to comprehensive schools, although some schools remain selective or partially selective. Comprehensive schools accept all students regardless of academic achievements. The grammar school name also lives on in Great Britain at some of the comprehensive schools, which retained the title in their names. Other grammar schools privatized and continue calling using the name.