GM schools opted out of local government control and were managed by their own boards of school governors.
Grant-maintained schools were developed to allow more parental choice within the state-maintained sector. The legislative conditions that created grant-maintained schools lasted from 1988 until 1998. Skegness Grammar School was the first school to apply for, and to receive, grant-maintained status.
In 1996 there were 1,090 grant-maintained schools, of which 60% were secondary schools. The popularity of GM schools in some areas was attributed to the poor financial support offered by local education authorities. GM schools were entitled to apply to central government for capital grants for essential building works.
In part because of the additional funding, but also because GM schools were allowed to set their own admissions criteria which were sometimes at variance with those applied by the Local Education Authorities, Grant-maintained schools were controversial and their semi-independence status caused friction with LEAs.
Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, grant-maintained schools were abolished. GM schools could chose to become foundation schools or to rejoin the local education authority as maintained community schools.