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Controversial admissions plan dropped by Invicta Grammar school

A grammar school has dropped proposals to give pupils from the same academy trust first pick of places after education chiefs called the move “unreasonable, unfair and unlawful”.

Invicta Grammar in Huntsman Lane, Maidstone, announced it was consulting on changes to its admission procedure.

The move would have given preference to children from Valley Invicta Academies Trust’s (VIAT) five primaries at Aylesford, East Borough, Kings Hill, Leybourne Chase and Holborough Lakes over local girls. The new criteria would have been applied from 2019. Children in care, siblings of current pupils and those with health issues would also be on the priority list.

Invicta Grammar School
Invicta Grammar School

But the bid to promote those at the primary academies angered mums living near the school in Grove Green and parents whose children attend St John’s Primary in Provender Way.

More than 900 people signed a petition calling on the trust to think again, citing fears their youngsters could be disadvantaged and the community hit by an influx of school-run traffic.

Julie Derrick, head teacher at Invicta Grammar School and joint chief executive of the trust, announced the latest decision after feedback from Kent County Council. In a response to a parent, she earlier said: “Historically, everyone who has passed the Kent Test and selects Invicta first secures a place.

“Even for those living some distance away, in recent years, they too have always secured a place.

“Our reasons for the criteria are purely to help us secure places for girls who have been ‘brought up’ the VIAT way, and it effectively helps our primary schools in preparing children to be aspirational.

“Many parents who live further away are often worried that they will not be successful in securing a place; this would give some peace of mind to parents with children in VIAT schools.”

Julie Derrick of Invicta Grammar School
Julie Derrick of Invicta Grammar School

Matt Dunkley, corporate director for children, young people and education at KCC, said: “The letter set out how KCC objected to the proposal to favour pupils at the trust’s schools over children at other schools. We would consider this approach to be unreasonable and unfair and therefore unlawful in the context of the Admissions Code.

“However, KCC did support the proposal to introduce a priority for children eligible for free school meals, supporting the recommendations made by KCC’s social mobility select committee.”

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