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Holcombe Grammar School's second bid to become co-ed turned down

By Matt Whale

Holcombe Grammar School has had its proposal to begin accepting both girls and boys turned down for a second time.

The school, formerly Chatham Grammar School for Boys, originally proposed to become co-educational last year - a move which was blocked by the Department for Education.

Less than six months after this application was turned down, the school in Letchworth Avenue begun a consultation for another bid but this too has been rejected.

The school changed its name to Holcombe Grammar School to reflect the name of the old house the school is built around
The school changed its name to Holcombe Grammar School to reflect the name of the old house the school is built around

A Gwynn Bassan, Director of Secondary Education at the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, the school’s sponsor, said: “The Trust applied for the school to become co-educational because we believe it would serve the needs of all students in the local area, and be in their best interests.

"Our wide-ranging consultation demonstrated the level of support for the proposal, in particular from parents.

”The Department for Education also recognised the merit and benefits that changing to co-ed would bring, including creating new choice for selective students in the area, and strengthening further the already effective collaboration between three TSAT schools in the area. It also recognised the support in response to our consultation for the change.

“The future of HGS remains very bright – it is a successful school achieving excellent results and is extremely popular with parents.”

Medway Council objected to Holcombe's first bid to become co-educational after concerns about the reduction in the availability of boys’ grammar places and the potential negative impact on local girls’ grammar schools.

Independent education adviser Peter Read
Independent education adviser Peter Read

The council wasn't against the school's second proposal to become co-educational, however, telling the TSAT that they raised no objection to their co-ed proposals in December 2016.

Kent education advisor Peter Read said the bid to become co-educational was one of the worst of a number recent proposals for change by Medway secondary schools.

He added: “It is perplexing to say the least, why this proposal was wheeled out again so soon after the previous rejection since, on the surface, nothing had changed.

“When the school first proposed the change, it was made clear that it did not care about any damage a change would cause to Chatham Grammar School for Girls by increasing the number of girls’ school places where there was already a surplus at that time, and altering the balance of provision to just one heavily oversubscribed boys’ grammar and three girls’ along with two mixed schools.”

Talking about the suggested merits of the proposal, Mr Read continued: “The first ‘merit’ is apparently ‘enhanced choice for selective students in Medway’, which is nonsense in view of the reduction in opportunities for selective boys’ places.

“Secondly is a ‘greater collaboration between Trust schools’ - why this needed such a dramatic change in provision is not explained; surely greater collaboration can just go ahead as it stands.”

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