Blow for supporters of selective schooling as Education Department vetoes major expansion of grammar school places in Kent
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Friday 13 December 2013
Plans for a major expansion of grammar school places through the opening of a “satellite” school in Sevenoaks, Kent, have been vetoed by the Department for Education.
Both Weald of Kent Grammar School and Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone have had their proposals rejected.
The two schools said their proposals were an expansion of their existing provision but the DfE ruled that they would establish a new school.
Under existing education, legislation, it would be illegal to set up a new selective state school.
In a letter to Invicta school, the DfE said: “The basis of the proposal as detailed in your business case is to address the absence of a grammar school within the Sevenoaks area.
“We have not received any evidence that demonstrates Sevenoaks children currently travel to Invicta grammar school. We would expect expansions to respond to demand from their existing community.”
To Weald of Kent grammar school, it said: “The proposal sets out that existing site remains single sex and the expansion would need to reflect the gender make-up of the existing school for the relevant age group.”
The decision on Sevenoaks scheme - which has been planned for several years - is seen as an indication of the line Education Secretary Michael Gove is adopting towards selection. The Department has not ruled out supporting a scheme if it can be proved to be an expansion of an existing school but it would appear unlikely anyone could substantiate that claim in relation to the Sevenoaks proposals.
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