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Displaying items by tag: Sevenoaks Satellite Grammar

Weald of Kent Grammar School is consulting with parents about taking over the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School annex and running it as an integral part of the school. I understand that Consultation papers are being sent out to parents this evening, and will expand and update this article when I have seen them.

However, my view is that this is the first feasible proposal to come forward and stands every chance of meeting the legal obstacles raised over the previous proposals by Weald and Invicta Grammar School. I have written several previous articles on the project and its history. 

The proposal is for Weald to become co-educational and then operate the Sevenoaks annex (hopefully renamed) as an integral part of a twin site grammar school, benefitting from the additional excellent facilities planned for the new buildings. It will have a single set of admissions criteria. The school is already planning to change its oversubscription criteria for 2015 admission in line with this proposal.....

Published in News Archive
Friday, 17 January 2014 00:16

Grammar School update:

This article looks primarily at recent activity in provision of grammar school in Kent and Medway. In particular it looks at: the proposed Sevenoaks Satellite Grammar School (last week's development); West Kent; North West Kent; Canterbury; Cranbrook; Maidstone; Medway; Shepway and Thanet......

Published in News Archive

Revised: 3 December. This article looks further at the implications of the letter from the Secretary of State for Education, Mr Gove, to Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks, published below.

The letter makes clear there is a legal difficulty about the opening of the proposed new grammar school provision in Sevenoaks, depending on whether it is classified a new school or an expansion.  I have now had a closer look at the issues and am becoming increasingly convinced the proposals on the table amount to a new school under the rules explained when discussions about the proposal began. 

This would be a great setback to KCC’s plans to expand grammar school provision in the area to meet the forecast need. Even if Mr Gove upholds the proposal, there are likely to be legal challenges that could delay implementation for years. In a recent interview on Radio Kent, Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said that if Michael Gove was minded to turn the proposal down on the advice he was given, he should instead be prepared to change the procedures to enable it to go forward. Certainly there would be considerable support from his own party, including such notables as: Michael Fallon, a Government Minister but more importantly MP for Sevenoaks and champion of the satellite; and Boris Johnson. Paul Carter may have reason to feel aggrieved if the proposal is in jeopardy, for not only has he allowed the Trinity Free School to go ahead on the site without dispute and encouraged the development of several other Free Schools (one of Mr Gove's key projects), but perhaps more importantly Kent Conservatives are under considerable threat from UKIP at the next general election. UKIP is committed to grammar school expansion and a defeat for the satellite would be a powerful fillip for them.....

Published in News Archive

Recent correspondence between Michael Fallon, MP for Sevenoaks and Michael Gove, Secretary of State, appears to suggest that any decision on the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks is far from clear cut.

Meanwhile, grammar school provision at Dartford Grammar looks set to increase, targeted at the ablest pupils from South East London.

Proposed Satellite Grammar School in Sevenoaks

The letter from Michael Fallon, dated 7th October, once more makes the case for the satellite, but finishes “I urge you to make a speedy decision”. Quite rightly, as time is passing, and the target date of opening in September 2015 relies on the building being mainly completed within the next 19 months. Planning permission may be working through, but not a brick can be laid until the decision is made, and any legal challenges resolved.

Mr Gove replied on 24th October: “Thank you for your letter of 7 October, about the provision of school places. I understand the difficulty pupils and families face in securing a suitable school place, and the distance many have to travel. Primary legislation prohibits the introduction of new selective schools and we must judge the proposals carefully to test whether they represent new schools or expansions.The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is assessing the proposals and will present its findings to ministers shortly. We will notify each school in writing as soon as a decision has been reached. In reaching our decision, we will consider all the evidence that has been presented through the process, and in correspondence with each academy trust. Thank you for writing to me on this important matter”.

Clearly, the central issue holding up proceedings is the one picked out by Mr Gove’s underlining: is the proposal for a new school or an expansion? ........

Published in News Archive

UPDATE (22nd October): It is becoming very apparent from Telephone Consultations and other enquiries, that Trinity School, the Sevenoaks Christian Free School, is likely to be considerably oversubscribed for 2014 entrance. Also, its distance measurement to determine priority for the 60 places awarded on nearest distance is taken from the centre of the Knole East proposed school site to the child's home. 

Kent County Council has agreed with the Trinity Free School and the Secretary of State for Education that the Free School should share the old Wildernesse School with the proposed new satellite grammar school from September 2015. This would be conditional on the Secretary of State actually giving approval for the satellite, although this is starting to look a given. At a public meeting last week, outline plans for the two schools were revealed.


            The site of the old Wildernesse School

With all three parties supporting the proposal, this would avoid the potential costly legal battle that threatened if the two schools were in competition for the same site, as initially seemed likely. Whilst the Trinity School has consistently supported the idea of site sharing, KCC was initially opposed but now clearly recognises this is the sensible way forward.

I have written a number of previous articles which analyse issues such as the potential source of students and describe the story as it has unfolded. If you put Sevenoaks in my search engine, or pick up the tags at the bottom of this page you should find all of them. 

One potential obstacle still exists to the plan, assuming the Secretary of State approves it. For the interpretation of the law that allows the setting up of a mixed satellite by a single sex grammar school remains open to legal challenge, and there are still interested parties who would be happy to see it fail, although their threat appears to be diminishing......

Published in News Archive

Now that Kent County Council appears confident the legal issues surrounding a satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks have been overcome, a second proposal has come forward for a satellite at Herne Bay in East Kent, although this idea has none of the problems that have beset Sevenoaks.

The plan has been initiated by Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, following discussions between himself, Barton Court Grammar School, Kent County Council and a property developer - Quinn Estates from Canterbury and replicates a similar scheme proposed a quarter of a century ago, whose failure to be implemented has left festering problems ever since. Children of grammar school ability in Herne Bay and Whitstable have had difficulties in securing selective places for many years, as the four nearest grammar schools: Queen Elizabeth’s in Faversham; and Simon Langton Boys, Simon Langton Girls and Barton Court all in Canterbury are all regularly oversubscribed. Indeed, this year QE was the most oversubscribed grammar school in Kent except for the “super-selectives”  along the county boundary in the West of the county.

you may have heard a summary of my views, expressed in more detail below, on Radio Kent this morning (Friday). KentOnline, for the Kentish Gazette has written an updated article, providing the views of Kirsten Cardus, Headteacher of Barton Court, here. Sir Roger Gale's views are reported here, which appear very critical of the position of KCC.

Published in News Archive
Monday, 01 July 2013 00:00

Sevenoaks Grammar School Satellite: Latest


Tuesday update to article below

 Radio Kent this morning carried a live double interview between Philip Limbert, Chief Executive of Valley Invicta Academies Trust, and David Bower, Chairman of Governors  of Weald of Kent Grammar School. Both made the case for their own institutions running the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks and agreed on a number of principles including an apparently comfortable acceptance of the fact that this has now become a competition. To quote Dr Limbert: “What is most important is that there is grammar school provision in Sevenoaks, not who runs it”. Roger Gough, the new KCC Cabinet Member for Education, and a Sevenoaks District Councillor, clarified the situation  for the Authority. Whilst KCC had worked with Invicta in the early stages of the project, they will now work with both bids and it would up to Michael Gove to make the final decision. The contribution from the Sevenoaks Grammar School campaign continued to denigrate the Weald bid suggesting their approach is now becoming increasingly divorced from the declared aim (below).

Footnote: In an unbroadcast portion of my own interview, I used the term “morphed” to describe the process of moving from four to six forms of entry for the proposed satellite. I should have trademarked it, as it has now become Radio Kent language to describe the change!  

Please note: the facts and issues outlined here are becoming immensely complicated. If I have made any errors of fact, please feel free to let me have the opportuntity to correct them. Opinions are my own!

I have never in over 40 years of working in education in Kent seen such an unpleasant battle as that which has now broken out over the proposed 6 form entry satellite grammar school on the Wildernesse site in Sevenoaks. As explained in a previous article, there are now two establishments vying to run the satellite if it actually comes about and that article provides considerable detail on the issues and background of what is a now four sided battle. The institutions  are the Valley Invicta Academies Trust (VIAT) from Maidstone - incorporating Invicta Grammar School,  and Weald of Kent Grammar School from Tonbridge. However, the site has already been provisionally promised by government to the Trinity Free School for September 2015, when The Knole Academy should vacate it to fully occupy its own new purpose built premises.

Published in News Archive
Saturday, 25 May 2013 08:08

What a difference three days makes

Took three days holiday this week in gap caused by half-term between preparing clients for appeals. Naturally there was a sudden outbreak of news including the following, some of which I will cover over the next couple of days:

1) Judd School announces it is considering setting up its own 11 plus tests for 2015 entry.

2) Judd school confirms no successful appeals this year.

3) Two new proposed Free Schools announced for opening in 2014 if approved. Jubilee Primary, in Maidstone, will be run by  Jubilee Church. Also the INSPIRE Special Free School will initially have 40 places and be based next to Silverbank Park in Churchill Avenue. Medway Council has worked in partnership with three schools in submitting the bid to the Department for Education: Willimaosn School Trust; Bradfields Special School; and Greenacre School. I don;t have any further details yet.

4) Kent County Council has begun its consultation on the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School satellite

5) The usual assassins keep putting the boot into the Trinity Christian Free  School on the 11 plus website (not sure what it has to do with the 11 plus!) proposed for the same site

6) An OFSTED for Dame Janet Primary Academy in Ramsgate. formed out of Dame Janet Junior and Dame Janet Infants (failed OFSTED) receives shocking OFSTED  showing that  becoming an Academy is not the solution for everyone.

7) KCC to debate unacceptable delays in preparing Statements of Special Education Need. It is claimed that these are down to failures by the medical services to provide timely appropriate evdence. 

Published in Peter's Blog


UPDATE: Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for education at KCC has made a statement to the KCC Education Cabinet Meeting on 19th March. 

Kent County Council has unveiled its Sponsor School for the Sevenoaks Satellite Grammar School and the proposal resolves a variety of potentially troublesome issues, as well as making a great deal of sense all round.

The sponsor is the Valley Invicta Academies Trust which manages both Invicta Grammar School and Valley Park School in Maidstone. Both schools have Outstanding OFSTED Inspections, key features of Invicta's success in September 2012 including: "There is an unyielding pursuit of excellence by the headteacher, senior leaders, middle leaders and governors; Achievement is outstanding across all key stages and in all subjects with all groups of students; The overall quality of teaching is outstanding and inspires, enthuses and motivates students in their thirst for knowledge". Valley Park's OFSTED is older, but this is the third most oversubscribed school of any type in the county,  confirming its outstanding reputation, and possibly being the only non-selective school in Kent commanding a house price premium.

Thus we can be sure that the proposed satellite (preferred to annexe) grammar school will be outstandingly managed, an essential quality if it is to pick its way through the minefield ahead. In one leap it overcomes my own concerns about its organisation.......

Published in News Archive
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