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Home Maidstone News Article
A fresh bid for a grammar school annex in west Kent is on the cards just months after the government rejected two rival applications.
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said he expected a new proposal to be submitted to the Department for Education by Easter.
He said it would overcome the reasons earlier schemes for a satellite school at Sevenoaks, aimed at addressing a shortage of places there, were ruled out.
The Weald of Kent Girls Grammar School in Tonbridge, which was one of the original applicants, confirmed it was in discussions with education officials at County Hall about becoming the sponsor.
However, governors at the Tudeley Lane school stressed it was too early to say whether it would go ahead as any fresh application would depend on it agreeing to become co-educational first.
David Bower, the chairman of governors, said consultation on that with parents and others would take place later this year.
“The major problem for a satellite grammar school is for it to be co-educational and both the original applications came from single sex schools. KCC is talking to us and we are talking to them. We have got an option in mind although it raises a number of issues. The governors are looking at whether going co-ed is something we wanted to approach. It does not mean we will go ahead.”
He stressed the views of existing and prospective parents would be listened to carefully as any changes to the school’s intake could mean fewer places for girls.
The school already has a mixed sixth form.
Cllr Carter said there was a “cunning plan” which would overcome the DfE’s objections to the initial bids.
“There is a massive need for more grammar school provision to keep up to speed with the split between grammars and high schools. It is long overdue in west Kent. We have a really good cunning plan which would be legal and legitimate. I am already in negotiations with Michael Gove to make sure that, provided we get the agreement of the governing body, we will get a much needed grammar for Sevenoaks.”
However, the timetable for opening a satellite school could slip by a year and not be ready to take children until 2016, he said.
Parents who have been campaigning for the annex welcomed any proposal that would mean extra grammar places.
Sarah Shilling said: “We welcome any proposal - it would be great if any school got behind it.”
In December, Mr Gove rejected two applications from the Weald of Kent Grammar and Maidstone’s Valley Invicta Academy Trust, saying they would breach laws on opening new selective schools.
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