Kent

Second Sevenoaks grammar school annexe approved

Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys
Image caption The spin-off site for the boys' school will open from September 2021

A second grammar school annexe has been given the go-ahead by Kent County Council's education committee.

In 2017, an extension of Tonbridge's Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls opened in Sevenoaks, 10 miles away.

A grammar school expansion for boys, as part of the Tunbridge Wells Boys' Grammar School, is set to open on the same site from September 2021.

It will mean school places for boys will rise from 210 to 300. The decision is due to be signed off in a few weeks.

Currently the law does not allow for the creation of new grammar schools, only the development of "spin-off sites".

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Current legislation prevents new grammar schools from being established and there are no plans to change this."

The government said that all schools wishing to expand onto a satellite site "must pass the same high bar in order to demonstrate that the expansion will not be a new school".

Grammar schools are controversial because they select pupils on the basis of ability tests. In Kent those tests are known as the 11-plus, which children take at the age of 10 or 11.

Joanne Bartley, of Comprehensive Future, which campaigns for fair school admission and to end the 11-plus, said there was some concern that both annexes would be operating "just like another school in another town".

Ian Watts, Kent County Council's area education officer for north Kent, said there was considerable support for the introduction of a boys' grammar provision in Sevenoaks on the Wildernesse site.

"The recommendation by the Children and Young People's Services Cabinet Committee to progress the proposal through the planning process, represents a significant milestone and provides a clear statement of intent that a boys' grammar provision can be introduced in Sevenoaks for September 2021," he said.

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