Valley Invicta Academy Trust behind KCC grammar school bid to be paid £75k
The school aiming to run a ‘new’ grammar satellite in west Kent is to be paid up to £75,000 by the county council to meet the costs of bidding for the role, it has emerged.
Kent County Council has signed a legal agreement with Valley Invicta Academy Trust in Maidstone.
The agreement commits the authority to cover the school’s costs for submitting a formal bid to the Department for Education to sponsor the new grammar annexe planned for Sevenoaks.
Invicta Grammar School - the school chosen by KCC as its partner
The arrangement has drawn criticism from a rival school that has also submitted a bid to run the new school.
David Bower, the chairman of Weald of Kent Grammar in Tonbridge, which submitted its own proposal to the Department for Education this summer, said he was flabbergasted.
“It seems strange to me - they [KCC] has not offered us anything.
"It does seem an awful lot. If they had offered us money on that scale, it would be far in excess of what we have spent. I am very surprised. It does not strike me as even-handed,” he said.
Kent County Council education cabinet member Roger Gough
Cllr Roger Gough (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for education, said the agreement was to cover management time and legal costs and said the Weald of Kent Grammar had not sought help or informed Kent County Council it was also making a bid.
“We said quite clearly from the outset that we were in partnership with Invicta. This is a somewhat unusual situation but we had indicated we would take this forward as a partnership with them.”
According to background papers, the contract commits Kent County Council to “providing Valley Invicta Academy Trust with funding, capped at £75k to cover the expenses of preparing and dispatching the bid.”
Opposition parties have queried the county council’s financial arrangement, with Labour calling it a disgrace.
County councillors have not had the opportunity to scrutinise the agreement because it was taken as an urgent decision over the summer.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Trudy Dean said: “I do not think it is appropriate to financially support an application from a school independent of the council. The council should not be supporting one school when it has had interest from others.”
"It does seem an awful lot. If they had offered us money on that scale, it would be far in excess of what we have spent" - David Bower of Weald of Kent Grammar
The news comes as the county council announced a public exhibition of its plans and confirmed the site it has earmarked for the satellite grammar would be shared with a free school, the Trinity Free School.
People will be able to view the county council’s plans at a public exhibition today at the Donnington Manor Hotel, London Road, Dunton Green, Sevenoaks TN13 2TD.
The exhibition will be open from 3.30pm to 9pm.
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