Published: 00:00, 29 July 2016
| Updated: 12:42, 29 July 2016
It may already boast four of the country’s top performing grammar schools, but MP Gareth Johnson wants a change in the law to allow for Dartford to have even more of them.
The School Standards and Framework Act was passed in 1998 by Tony Blair’s incoming Labour government and prohibits any new grammar schools from being built.
Education secretary Justine Greening has said she is open to the idea of allowing new grammar schools, and her predecessor Nicky Morgan gave the go-ahead to a new grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks last year.
Mr Johnson is encouraged by the change in stance and wants Theresa May’s government to ditch the near two-decade-old legislation in order to meet the demands of both pupils and parents.
“We have an opportunity now with the new Prime Minister to have a change in attitude towards grammar schools and we should be more positive towards them,” he said.
“I have seen first-hand the benefits that grammar school education can provide.
“It is madness that the law allows us to be selective based on sporting ability or music ability, but not academic ability" Dartford MP Gareth Johnson
“The demand for places at the existing grammar schools is very high and they are very popular with both pupils and parents.
“What now needs to happen is to change the law.
“It is madness that the law allows us to be selective based on sporting ability or music ability, but not academic ability.”
Mr Johnson is a former pupil of Dartford Grammar School, which in January was outstripping some of Britain’s most expensive private schools with more offers of placements from Cambridge and Oxford.
Last month, Dartford Grammar School for Girls received an ‘outstanding’ report from Ofsted, as did Wilmington Grammar School for Girls last November.
Wilmington Grammar School for Boys ranked among the best in the country for GCSE results last year, with 96% of pupils getting five or more acceptable GCSEs.
Mr Johnson added: “Many people move into Dartford because of the grammar schools, therefore I feel it is right to have adequate provision for these people.
“I am incredibly proud of all the schools in Dartford, both non-selective and selective, but what we know is that grammar schools provide fantastic education for those who want to specialise in academic work.
“Dartford will be getting new secondary school provision because of the increase of population and what I wanted was for one of them to be a grammar school.
“The grammar schools have been great for this area and we should allow not just them to flourish but for new ones to be built.”
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