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Saturday, 08 November 2014 00:00

Sevenoaks Grammar Satellite: Parallel proposal in Maidenhead

UPDATE: The proposal by Weald of Kent Grammar School is now being considered by the Department for Education. 

There could soon be movement in the stalled proposal for a satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks, after the Home Secretary, Mrs Teresa May has come out in support of a similar proposal in her own parliamentary constituency of Maidenhead, as explained below.

Planning permission for the Sevenoaks satellite grammar school has now been passed, building contractors are in place, and an application to go ahead has been put to the Department for Education.  Meanwhile, a separate plan for buildings on the same site for the Trinity Free School has also been approved and this project appears to be ready to go.

Sevenoaks

Two previous proposals for the Sevenoaks grammar development have been rejected by Mr Gove, when he was Secretary of State for Education, both on the grounds that they did not comply with current government legislation that required the satellite to have the same gender make up and admission rules as the host school. I have written about these previously.

A new proposal was put forward in September by the Governors of Weald of Kent Grammar School, to run a three form Satellite in the new premises for girls only, which would apparently overcome the previous legal hurdles but doesn't meet the pressing need for additional places for boys. 

This follows a parental consultation, the Chairman of Governors describing it as “an extremely interesting challenge for the school and a wonderful opportunity to extend Weald of Kent’s unique ethos to more students in the locality”. The proposal would enable the satellite to become a full-blown mixed new grammar school or satellite if the rules changed, as well they might with Mrs May’s backing, if the Conservative remain in power, or shared power after the next General Election.

Maidenhead

The situation in Maidenhead differs in a number of respects from that in Sevenoaks, most importantly in that there is currently no grammar school presence in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. However, some children from the Borough take up grammar places in neighbouring Slough, Reading and Buckinghamshire.

The Royal Borough Council consideration of the idea is hardly travelling at full steam, having originated in a Council Cabinet Meeting in March 2013, to explore solutions to the shortage of spaces. It is envisaged that the satellite would be run by one or more grammar schools in Slough or Buckinghamshire, although surely this would fall on similar grounds to Sevenoaks if the two sites are to have the same admission rules, presumably giving priority to children nearest the main site. The council will meet again in September 2015 to consider this and other proposals. This will give plenty of time for the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan to formulate a policy applicable also to Sevenoaks, but meanwhile, the Weald of Kent proposal appears to be the only one in town.

Weald now has seven classes in Year 7, with over 200 girls on roll, following appeals which upheld 48 cases, nearly all for girls who had not initially been found selective, although I have recently been contacted by the parents of one of these girls to say that 12 of them are still on a waiting list.  

Last modified on Sunday, 11 September 2016 20:25

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