Kent

Weald of Kent grammar school annexe challenge put on hold

Weald of Kent Grammar School
Image caption Tonbridge's Weald of Kent Grammar School is scheduled to open on a site in Sevenoaks in 2017

Plans to challenge the approval of England's first "new" grammar school in 50 years have been put on hold.

Weald of Kent school is due to open an "annexe" in Sevenoaks, in September 2017 with places for 450 girls, sidestepping a new grammar ban.

The government backed their plan in October, saying it was a "genuine expansion" of an existing school.

Comprehensive Future, challenging the plan, said it had not been given enough details to argue its case in court.

'Unaccountably delayed'

The group, which campaigns for equality of opportunity in education, previously said it was taking advice on the feasibility of a judicial review of the decision in the High Court.

Melissa Benn, of the group, said a request for information from Kent County Council and the government over the past few months but it had "often not been forthcoming or has been unaccountably delayed".

"The absence of official openness throughout this process has made it almost impossible for us to be certain of legally establishing, at this stage, that this is indeed a new school," she said.

"We believe we are much more likely to win any legal argument when all the information pertaining to the day-to-day running of the school is out in the open.

"In the meantime we urgently call on the government, council and school to release all proposals relating to the school's future."

'Suggestion disingenuous'

The decision by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to allow the Weald of Kent school to open an annexe, side-steps a 1998 law banning the creation of new grammars.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said it had released all the information required by law and "to suggest otherwise would be disingenuous".

"The news that Comprehensive Future is reconsidering their legal challenge is good news for parents of Kent who will benefit from the extension of the excellent Weald of Kent Grammar School," he said.

Kent County Council has not responded to Comprehensive Future's claims.

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