Supporting Families
  • banner6
  • banner3
  • banner13
  • banner4
  • banner10
  • banner8
  • banner11
  • banner9
  • banner12
  • banner2
Saturday, 15 February 2020 23:22

Selective School Expansion Fund: Kent Decisions

Government has announced the six grammar schools offered £14.3 million funding from the second round of the Government Grammar School Expansion  Fund, out of the 25 that applied. None of the eight Kent and two Medway grammar schools which applied were successful. The successful schools were:  King Edward VI Handsworth School, Birmingham; Ribston Hall High School, Gloucestershire; Haberdashers’ Adams and Newport Girls’ High School Academy, both Telford and Wrekin; Altrincham Grammar School for Girls; and Stretford Grammar School, both in Trafford. 

The Kent grammar schools which applied were: Barton Court, Canterbury and Queen Elizabeth's, Faversham, both bidding for a new Annexe in Herne Bay/Whitstable; Cranbrook; Highsted, Sittingbourne; Highworth, Ashford; Skinners, Tunbridge Wells; and Wilmington Boys and Wilmington Girls, jointly, budding for a new Sixth Form complex. Also Chatham (previously called Chatham Grammar School for Girls) and Fort Pitt Grammar Schools in Medway.

A government document setting out details of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF)  for 2019 applicants, the current scheme, sets out the criteria by which proposals are judged as follows:

The purpose of the Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) is to support the expansion of selective schools where:
• there is a need for additional places, both in terms of a shortfall of secondary places in the local area and a demand from parents for more selective places; and
• they have ambitious but deliverable plans for increasing access for disadvantaged pupils (by which we mean pupils eligible for the pupil premium), and
• they have plans to work with other local schools to increase access for disadvantaged pupils and to raise attainment.

In a previous article I look at the 2018 Round and the eight unsuccessful  2018 bidders,  some of whom  have reapplied for 2019. These were: Skinners', Cranbrook, Highworth, Tunbridge Wells Boys, Wilmington Boys and Girls (jointly), all from Kent and Rainham Mark in  Medway.

The article is set in the context of looking at Pupil Premium and grammar schools. You will find the 2019 Consultation document for Highsted here, although to my untutored eye it looks a little thin. Others are not readily available, but I am happy to be directed to them. 

Kent Grammar Schools
I suspect for several of the Kent schools, one problem lies in the first of the three criteria. On allocation for September 2019 places, there were 217 places before appeals took place, but another 399 were taken up by out of county applicants. Add these together and 11.8% of all grammar school places were unfilled by Kent children, before appeals. The grammar school expansions and change of entrance criteria to support Kent children in the West of the county have gone a long way to meet local pressures, and the reason there is pressure in North West Kent is solely because of the  two Dartford Grammars chasing high performing London children. My 2019 survey on Oversubscription and Vacancies  in Kent Grammars has the eight most popular schools all situated along the Kent boundary, with large number of out of county applicants. In Year Seven, 30.7% of all pupils were in grammar schools  in this year's October school census, way above the target 25%. The difference between the two percentages is made up by appeals and additional children securing places in local selection tests in six grammar schools. In this climate, the successful schools may well have been able to demonstrate a greater competition for places, although I have not investigated this. 
Another problem is criterion two, that of increasing access in a grammar school system that selects through a standard pass mark. In some areas grammar schools have increased access by lowering the pass mark, but I don't see that as viable in a county wide test operating across 32 grammar schools, as in Kent.  
Rochester Grammar and the Medway bids 
What remains very interesting is last year's success: The Rochester Grammar School, details here. There was already a surplus of girls' grammar places in Medway, and its radical proposal to scrap super selection and give priority to local girls no doubt helped to secure the award will no doubt have exacerbated this. I am sure the surplus will be confirmed when this year's allocations are available next month. In that context the bids of its two competitor girls' schools, Chatham Grammar and Fort Pitt, could not have contained a credible case for expansion of the number of places. 
Whitstable/Herne Bay Annexe
Much has been written about this now failed proposal, especially by myself, but also by Jo Bartley, an indefatigable opponent of academic selection and all that goes with it. An article from 2018 sets out the background to the proposal, which stretches back to the early 1980's, but most recently here. Two rival bids were made by Queen Elizabeth's, Faversham and Barton Court, Canterbury. My own view has always been that the proposal for either school does not make sense, partly because there is no significant pressure on places in the area now that Simon Langton Boys in Canterbury has expanded by 30 places. Further, I think it would be very difficult to frame a single set of oversubscription criteria based on distance to fit either pairing of sites.  
FOI on Annexes
Mrs Bartley pursues issues relating to annexes through FOIs at a level which leaves my own requests for information to inform parents way behind, but she occasionally comes across something relevant. The following is an excerpt from a remarkably lengthy and interesting  reply from the Department for Education, which may give insight into the reasons for rejection of the Whitstable/Herne Bay annexe, but is also relevant to the Tunbridge Wells Boys proposal at present well advanced. 
Satellite expansions
Where a bid proposes to expand a school on another (satellite) site, you must be satisfied that the proposal is a genuine expansion and does not constitute a new school.
You must consider the information provided in the appropriate section of the application form to determine the overall level of integration between the two sites.
There is no easy “checklist” for this but the greater the integration the lower the risk. Points to consider are:
The reasons for the expansion
•           What is the rationale for this approach and this particular site?
Admission and curriculum arrangements
•           How will the new site be used (e.g. which age groups/pupils will it serve)?
•           Are any changes to admission arrangements necessary?
•           Will there be movement of pupils between sites?
Governance and administration
•           How will whole school activities be managed?
•           Will staff be employed on contracts to work on both sites? How frequently will they do so?
•           What governance, leadership and management arrangements will be put in place to oversee the new site
            (e.g. will the new site be governed by the same governing body/academy trust board and the same school leadership team)?
Physical characteristics of the school
•           How will facilities across the two sites be used (e.g. sharing of the facilities and resources available at the two sites, such as playing fields)?
•           Is the new site in an area that is easily accessible to the community that the current school serves?








Last modified on Sunday, 29 March 2020 07:54

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.