Published: 19:04, 15 November 2019
| Updated: 10:31, 16 November 2019
The multi-million pound expansion of a grammar school has been given the go-ahead.
Gravesend Grammar School will extend its Year 7 intake from 174 pupils to 210 in September 2021 after it was approved by Kent County Council as part of a £7m expansion plan.
The decision comes following a growing demand for school places in Gravesham and fears there could be a borough shortage of 99 spaces for students, aged 11 and 12, over the next five years.
Gravesend Grammar School's headteacher, Malcolm Moaby, said: "A number of schools in Gravesham have had expansion plans agreed and we are pleased that we will be able to provide additional selective places for local children."
More than 1,200 pupils study at the secondary school and sixth form, in Church Walk, which was recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted and is run by the Decus Educational Trust.
The grammar school has been seen as the only viable option for expansion by KCC due to its status as the only selective school for boys in Gravesham and Longfield, a council report states.
Mr Moaby said: "The local authority contacted the Decus Educational Trust some time ago as the demand for places in Gravesham has risen due to the popularity of north Kent as a place to live.
"This expansion will allow us to replace old and temporary buildings as well as refurbish other areas of the school..."
"This contributed to a large increase in numbers as identified in the KCC commissioning plan."
Unanimous approval was given by KCC's children's, young person and education committee during a public meeting at Maidstone County Hall.
School upgrades, which include the creation of a new teaching block, are expected to cost between £7m and £7.5m and this will be funded through the KCC committee's capital budget.
Permanent infrastructure exists at Gravesend Grammar School to accommodate just 150 of its 174 pupils in Year 7.
A temporary, two-storey, teaching block was recently built to facilitate the extra 24 spaces after additional school places were offered through the appeal process.
Work will soon be underway to expand the school's infrastructure to cater for the 36 extra Year 7 pupils, such as the new teaching block, bosses say.
Mr Moaby added: "This expansion will allow us to replace old and temporary buildings as well as refurbish other areas of the school."