Council to probe grammar school bid
A Conservative council is to examine whether it can set up a new grammar school - the first for 50 years - following a relaxation of rules by the Government.
Kent County Council is to look at a legal change introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove late last year to set up single-sex grammar schools in Sevenoaks following a petition by parents.
Under the new admissions rules, councils can no longer block the expansion of both grammar and comprehensive schools.
The Government change does not allow for entirely new grammar schools, but it would allow existing schools to open an annex in Sevenoaks to cater for the demand.
The area is the only part of Kent that does not have a grammar school - forcing around 1,100 pupils to travel 15 miles to Tunbridge Wells to receive a selective school education.
Kent is also one of the few areas in the country that still has grammar schools and if a new annex was set up that would effectively be a new such school.
Mike Whiting, cabinet member for education on Kent County Council, said the annex would cater for around 120 pupils in Sevenoaks.
The matter is to be discussed at a full council meeting in March and he explained he would be speaking to head teachers in West Kent later this month to discuss if they would be prepared to set up the grammar annexes.
"We have been looking at the relaxation of rules that allows existing grammar schools to expand and that allows them to create annexes at another site," Mr Whiting said. "If it went ahead it would effectively be a new grammar school.
"Between now and March we will find out what is possible and what is not possible but what the parents are asking for makes sense because there is no grammar school in Sevenoaks."