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Wednesday, 05 June 2019 22:57

Academy and Free School News: June 2019


Expanded Grammar Schools
It remains to be seen if the government policy to expand current grammar schools which give priority to disadvantaged pupils, will continue after the change of Prime Minister. Rochester Grammar was successful in the first round, using sleight of hand to demonstrate its expansion, but completely reversing its current policy of giving priority to high performers, in a move which will transform Medway grammar opportunities for girls as explained here

In Kent, as the population increases, there also needs to be an increase in grammar school numbers to keep provision of the 25% of places for grammar ability stable (this does not and should not take into account additional numbers granted places through appeals). Whilst those opposed to selection may have a case for the complete allocation of grammar schools, it is not valid to argue for the blocking of additional places to keep opportunities at the same level. Whilst some grammar schools are able to increase size on site to meet this need, the main method for the future to stay within the rules would appear to be by annexes, following the Weald of Kent Grammar School Annexe in Sevenoaks as a precedent. currently the only example in the country. .

For historical reasons, grammar provision across the county is uneven, but there are already long term shortages, and the rapid expansion of some areas is and will continue creating extreme pressures.

The main pressure point for many years has been Herne Bay and Whitstable, both with a rapidly growing population, where unsuccessful attempts to meet need have been made intermittently since the 1980s. Two grammar schools have made public their desire to provide an annexe there in the next round of expansion: Barton Court in Canterbury (one of several attempts over the years) and Queen Elizabeth’s, Faversham.

There are currently three other pressing major areas of housing expansion: Ashford; Folkestone and Ebbsfleet. The two Ashford grammar schools are not yet up to capacity, with Norton Knatchbull able to absorb more boys comfortably. In Folkestone, where the Shepway Test adds to demand for grammar school places, there is a major expansion planned for Otterpool, and The Harvey Grammar is being considered for expansion. Ebbsfleet where the new Ebbsfleet Garden City is underway is situated between Gravesham and Dartford. There is no apparent extra capacity in Dartford for multiple reasons discussed elsewhere on this site, so any solution has to be met by the expansion of the two Gravesham grammars, with some grammar qualified Ebbsfleet children already having to appeal to stand a chance of a selective place.

Medway Council, which appears to show utter cluelessness about what is happening with regard to its grammar schools, as explained in numerous articles on this site, for example here, has voted to have a new grammar school, oblivious of need and current rules forbidding new schools. It has also effectively and unlawfully banned late applicants for grammar school places (tough if you are moving into the area!) by abolishing late testing for them. Medway grammar schools have also lost a series of challenges by me to the Schools Adjudicator about changing their admission criteria, unchallenged by Medway Council.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 June 2020 23:21


  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 June 2019 23:07 posted by Philip Jamieson

    Another thorough, unique and brilliant piece of research Peter, contributing to an unparalleled record of educational events across the county and country. Why has it not been recognised for what it is? Archives scream for such data. PETER: Thank you.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 06 June 2019 21:45 posted by Saddened previous Folkestone Academy teacher

    As a previous member of staff at the Folkestone Academy, who year on year celebrated our success of being over subscribed, I am devastated to read that they have 84 places available, with an already reduced PAN.

    It is beyond belief that the fortune of a school can be damaged so extensively in just two years.

    Please can someone, somewhere take note and do something about these failures. PETER I share your despair. However the message from government appears clear. Turner Schools is to be financially supported however badly they perform! I have now produced so many areas of failure; surely those in charge must be eventually become aware of them. What must other more responsible Trusts think about this extraordinary unfairness.

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