The Times is reporting that what it calls ‘Britain’s first new grammar school in 50 years’ – technically an annexe to an existing grammar school but several miles away – will be approved today.
The paper says that Nicky Morgan will give the go-ahead to plans for a new 450-pupil annexe in Sevenoaks, Kent, after five months of what it calls ‘legal wrangling’, although it says she will also insist that the decision does not mean the government will scrap the current law forbidding new taxpayer-funded grammar schools.
However, the paper goes on to suggest Mrs Morgan is now likely to receive a flood of similar applications from other grammar schools.
The move is also expected to raise tensions within the Conservative Party with a split between those, including Boris Johnson, who want more grammar schools and those, including David Cameron and Michael Gove, who believe the school reforms and the academy model can improve standards for all without selection.
Nicky Morgan is said to sympathise with the second group, but is described as being concerned that a refusal to give permission for the new school would be open to a legal challenge. The paper suggests the decision to give permission to this new school was only made after its governors met conditions that had been laid down by DfE lawyers, including the requirement that pupils at the new Sevenoaks school must spend time on the parent Tonbridge site at least once a week
Paul Carter, Tory leader of Kent county council, is quoted:
“The school took great effort to submit their bid to give greater detailed information on how it will be one school, not two schools, and they did a very good job on that.”
“The big issue about this decision is that it won’t open up the floodgates. You have to have a grammar school there in the first place to expand. If you can’t expand on site you have to expand elsewhere, and that’s all we have done in this case…”
More at: First new grammar in 50 years approved (subscription may be required)
So – if the Times is right – and the rest of the media appears to be jumping on their report – then the new grammar school annexe in Kent is going ahead.
The paper suggests the next application for expansion could come from a grammar school in Maidenhead where the proposed annexe is closer than the one being approved today.
Where do you see all this going next and what do you make of the decision?
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