A headteacher has given a controversial warning to parents that they could be 'setting children up for a fall' by trying to get them into a grammar school.

As the deadline for grammar school applications approaches Christine Cunniffe, the headteacher of Ascot's private all-abilities LVS School in London Road, is advising parents to think carefully before they try and get their child a place at one of the area's grammar schools.

The Slough Grammar Schools, Herschel, Slough and Langley Grammar Schools as well as St Bernard’s Grammar School are heavily over-subscribed.

Mrs Cunniffe, who has three children herself, acknowledges that children can be prepared for the 11 plus exam that could get them a place - with many intensive tuition services available.

She said: "It’s big business with tutors charging anywhere up to £60 per hour.

"You can practice tests to become familiar with how to answer the questions which obviously helps but are you setting your child up for a fall and a stressful summer of cramming in which they could instead be learning while enjoying their freedom?"

She says her own experience at a grammar school was unhappy.

"I studied religiously to gain a place at one of the country’s leading grammar schools but when I got there, I realised the time should have been spent on perfecting my maths and English grammar, reading books, exploring history, the great outdoors and more sporting activities never mind a modern foreign language.

"It was not the right setting for me and my light went out. My confidence and self-esteem plummeted and the result was a very unhappy and underachieving child. Having worked in a state grammar school myself for seven years, I saw this scenario first hand far too often. Luckily, my mother realised to her credit what it was doing to me and challenged the local education authority to find me a more suitable school."