Published: 09:00, 28 March 2014
Plans to open the first 'new' grammar school in Kent for 50 years have suffered another setback that could spell the end of the scheme.
Governors of The Weald of Kent Girls Grammar have decided not to press ahead with a plan to become co-educational - a move it had said would pave the way for it to become the sponsor of a new annexe in Sevenoaks.
The news is a major blow to the scheme and will dismay campaigners who have been calling for more grammar places in Sevenoaks.
It will also disappoint Kent County Council, which had hoped to overcome the obstacles placed before it last year when the Department for Education rejected rival bids by two schools to run the satellite school.
In a letter to parents, chair of governors at The Weald Of Kent David Bower said: "The data collected showed that only a minority of parents were in favour of Weald of Kent becoming co-educational and that, of those who voted yes, one fifth expressed reservations.
"Amongst the objections was the particular concern that no additional places for girls would result from the change."
"Governors consider that the case for Weald of Kent to become co-educational at the Tonbridge site has not been established" - David Bower
"Governors consider that the case for Weald of Kent to become co-educational at the Tonbridge site has not been established and, therefore, conclude that it will be difficult to go ahead with the expansion into Sevenoaks if this is a requirement."
The letter did not rule out other options, saying the school would consider other suggestions. However, the development does seem to be the end of the road - at least for the time being.
“The School will be advising the Educational Funding Agency and Kent County Council of this decision.
"However, Governors would nonetheless welcome the opportunity to consider further suggestions about how they might expand into Sevenoaks given that Weald of Kent is the main provider of Grammar School places to Sevenoaks students.”
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