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County education chiefs in fresh talks about creating new grammar places

By Paul Francis

A fresh attempt is being made to open a grammar school annexe in west Kent.

Kent County Council has re-opened discussions about the possibility of a new grammar after the government rejected an earlier bid for a satellite school in Sevenoaks last December.

It fell foul of legislation preventing the opening of new grammar schools.

Weald of Kent Girls Grammar
Weald of Kent Girls Grammar

County council education chiefs are now exploring what is being described as a ‘modular’ option.

Boys and girls would be taught separately but a single governing body or trust board would administer the annexe.

News of the scheme comes as education secretary Michael Gove reiterated that the government would consider any fresh proposals so long as they were consistent with the law.

The Weald of Kent Girls Grammar School has confirmed it has had a meeting with County Hall officials about the idea.

Chair of governors David Bower said: “In a sense, we have never left the table and feel we are best placed to offer whatever the county council wants in respect of a grammar school. The current option is a modular development with a girls wing and a boys wing. They have asked us if we would be interested in running the girls wing. Clearly, there are a lot of issues that stem from that, not least the costs. We have an open mind.”

The Weald of Kent Girls Grammar consulted parents in March about becoming a co-ed school, which would have allowed it to become a sponsor of a mixed a annexe. However, parents overwhelmingly rejected the idea and at that point it was felt the scheme would be mothballed.

KCC has said it will look at all options as it tries to address the long-standing problem of a shortage of selective school places in Sevenoaks. It is not known which other school might be involved.

Sarah Shilling, who heads the campaign group that has been calling for additional grammar places, said she was encouraged to hear about alternative proposals. “It could be an interesting solution,” she said.

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