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Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:14

New Sevenoaks Grammar School Annexe

KCC has this afternoon agreed to pursue proposals to provide a new grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks.  The proposition: 'The recommendation is that in response to an ePetition, Kent County Council pursues proposals to provide 2FE of selective secondary provision for boys, 2FE of selective secondary provision for girls and 2FE of mixed non-selective provision for students resident in the Sevenoaks south area, that would meet legal requirements'  was passed. Now the hard work begins. It is reported that KCC does not support the competing proposed Chrstian Free School, because of possible impact on the surrounding schools including the Knowle Academy.

As I confirmed on BBC News 24 this evening, there are actually 117 Kent children who applied for a grammar school place and were not offered one, and not the 60 claimed by KCC. This year, these are nearly all in West and North West Kent. KCC continues to claim there are only 60, but doesn't count those who put a non-selective school on their application form as a safety net and were offered this. For reasons explained below the majority of these will be boys. A total of 388 children who were grammar school qualified and put a West Kent Grammar School as first choice were rejected by that school. 

Some thoughts.....

Before any annexe  can be brought into being a number of issues have to be resolved. As all grammar schools in the area are single sex, there will be need to be two grammar schools to sponsor this, one boys and one girls, not just one. These cannot be from the 'super-selectives' as the new annexe has to reflect the ethos and character of the host schools and to be 'super selective' would be a nonsense given the need. The Chairman of the Kent Association of Headteachers and the head of the Knole Academy have both stated in the media that none of the West Kent grammar schools were interested in being involved, and so KCC will be looking for two schools outside the immediate area to sponsor this. I understand they have schools that are interested. Some questions when these schools are identified and agree. Will children be members of each school separately or members of the annexe? The proposed annexe is not a school in its own right, so they need to be members of the host schools.  What are the implications of having children from two distinct schools educated together?  Who will decide whether a child admitted to the school goes to main premises or to the annexe? What about staff and their contracts? Where is the money coming from to provide and equip this annexe? Will parents be happy for their children to attend an annexe of a grammar school based in another town, rather than a Sevenoaks or West Kent grammar school in its own right?  I am sure that answers to all these and more questions will be forthcoming in time, but it will certainly take considerable time to resolve all the legal issues that arise.

However, I see another issue that has not been discussed anywhere in the media or in documents I have seen.  There is a shortage of grammar school places in West Kent. The problem is that it is a shortage for boys in the north of the area - it is said that there are 49 boys displaced without any grammar school place in and around north Sevenoaks town, unable to gain access to Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys in the south.  Clearly for these it would be ideal. The problem comes with the girls. All girls in the northern part of the area already gain access to a 'proper' grammar school as Weald of Kent Grammar School admits them. Are local parents going to choose an unproven annexe in Sevenoaks over this Ofsted Outstanding school. Those girls without grammar school places come from the south of the district - such as Pembury and Langton Green. Are they really going to be happy to travel to the far north, to an annexe? I foresee therefore that this will become predominantly a boys' annexe, which alters the whole character of the joint provision. 

You will find an alternative view from Sevenoaks Action for Community Education (ACE), a group of local parents that wants sufficient secondary school places in Sevenoaks that meet the needs of the Community.

Plenty of issues to sort out over the next year or so, but they may well not be sorted for 2013 entry, even if final approval is given by government.  There has been hardly any comment on the final part of the proposition - two forms of non-selective provision. We await to see what this means. 

Last modified on Monday, 25 February 2013 18:59

1 comment

  • Comment Link Thursday, 29 March 2012 23:15 posted by Nean

    It would seem to make sense then, if the Weald of Kent Grammar School were to become the girls sponsor of the Sevenoaks annex. PETER: I agree it would make sense, but it is now clear that sponsor schools will not be coming forward from the West Kent grammar schools

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