In a further set-back to the proposal to set up a mixed grammar school annex in Sevenoaks, Governors of Weald Of Kent Grammar School have decided after consulting parents “that the case for Weald of Kent to become co-educational at the Tonbridge site has not been established and, therefore, conclude that it is difficult to go ahead with the expansion into Sevenoaks if this is a requirement”. There is a copy of the letter text at the foot of this article. You will find links to my previous articles here.....
UPDATE (22nd October): It is becoming very apparent from Telephone Consultations and other enquiries, that Trinity School, the Sevenoaks Christian Free School, is likely to be considerably oversubscribed for 2014 entrance. Also, its distance measurement to determine priority for the 60 places awarded on nearest distance is taken from the centre of the Knole East proposed school site to the child's home.
Kent County Council has agreed with the Trinity Free School and the Secretary of State for Education that the Free School should share the old Wildernesse School with the proposed new satellite grammar school from September 2015. This would be conditional on the Secretary of State actually giving approval for the satellite, although this is starting to look a given. At a public meeting last week, outline plans for the two schools were revealed.
|The site of the old Wildernesse School|
With all three parties supporting the proposal, this would avoid the potential costly legal battle that threatened if the two schools were in competition for the same site, as initially seemed likely. Whilst the Trinity School has consistently supported the idea of site sharing, KCC was initially opposed but now clearly recognises this is the sensible way forward.
I have written a number of previous articles which analyse issues such as the potential source of students and describe the story as it has unfolded. If you put Sevenoaks in my search engine, or pick up the tags at the bottom of this page you should find all of them.
One potential obstacle still exists to the plan, assuming the Secretary of State approves it. For the interpretation of the law that allows the setting up of a mixed satellite by a single sex grammar school remains open to legal challenge, and there are still interested parties who would be happy to see it fail, although their threat appears to be diminishing......
Tuesday update to article below
Radio Kent this morning carried a live double interview between Philip Limbert, Chief Executive of Valley Invicta Academies Trust, and David Bower, Chairman of Governors of Weald of Kent Grammar School. Both made the case for their own institutions running the proposed satellite grammar school in Sevenoaks and agreed on a number of principles including an apparently comfortable acceptance of the fact that this has now become a competition. To quote Dr Limbert: “What is most important is that there is grammar school provision in Sevenoaks, not who runs it”. Roger Gough, the new KCC Cabinet Member for Education, and a Sevenoaks District Councillor, clarified the situation for the Authority. Whilst KCC had worked with Invicta in the early stages of the project, they will now work with both bids and it would up to Michael Gove to make the final decision. The contribution from the Sevenoaks Grammar School campaign continued to denigrate the Weald bid suggesting their approach is now becoming increasingly divorced from the declared aim (below).
Footnote: In an unbroadcast portion of my own interview, I used the term “morphed” to describe the process of moving from four to six forms of entry for the proposed satellite. I should have trademarked it, as it has now become Radio Kent language to describe the change!
Please note: the facts and issues outlined here are becoming immensely complicated. If I have made any errors of fact, please feel free to let me have the opportuntity to correct them. Opinions are my own!
I have never in over 40 years of working in education in Kent seen such an unpleasant battle as that which has now broken out over the proposed 6 form entry satellite grammar school on the Wildernesse site in Sevenoaks. As explained in a previous article, there are now two establishments vying to run the satellite if it actually comes about and that article provides considerable detail on the issues and background of what is a now four sided battle. The institutions are the Valley Invicta Academies Trust (VIAT) from Maidstone - incorporating Invicta Grammar School, and Weald of Kent Grammar School from Tonbridge. However, the site has already been provisionally promised by government to the Trinity Free School for September 2015, when The Knole Academy should vacate it to fully occupy its own new purpose built premises.
Took three days holiday this week in gap caused by half-term between preparing clients for appeals. Naturally there was a sudden outbreak of news including the following, some of which I will cover over the next couple of days:
1) Judd School announces it is considering setting up its own 11 plus tests for 2015 entry.
2) Judd school confirms no successful appeals this year.
3) Two new proposed Free Schools announced for opening in 2014 if approved. Jubilee Primary, in Maidstone, will be run by Jubilee Church. Also the INSPIRE Special Free School will initially have 40 places and be based next to Silverbank Park in Churchill Avenue. Medway Council has worked in partnership with three schools in submitting the bid to the Department for Education: Willimaosn School Trust; Bradfields Special School; and Greenacre School. I don;t have any further details yet.
4) Kent County Council has begun its consultation on the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School satellite
5) The usual assassins keep putting the boot into the Trinity Christian Free School on the 11 plus website (not sure what it has to do with the 11 plus!) proposed for the same site
6) An OFSTED for Dame Janet Primary Academy in Ramsgate. formed out of Dame Janet Junior and Dame Janet Infants (failed OFSTED) receives shocking OFSTED showing that becoming an Academy is not the solution for everyone.
7) KCC to debate unacceptable delays in preparing Statements of Special Education Need. It is claimed that these are down to failures by the medical services to provide timely appropriate evdence.
UPDATE: Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for education at KCC has made a statement to the KCC Education Cabinet Meeting on 19th March.
Kent County Council has unveiled its Sponsor School for the Sevenoaks Satellite Grammar School and the proposal resolves a variety of potentially troublesome issues, as well as making a great deal of sense all round.
The sponsor is the Valley Invicta Academies Trust which manages both Invicta Grammar School and Valley Park School in Maidstone. Both schools have Outstanding OFSTED Inspections, key features of Invicta's success in September 2012 including: "There is an unyielding pursuit of excellence by the headteacher, senior leaders, middle leaders and governors; Achievement is outstanding across all key stages and in all subjects with all groups of students; The overall quality of teaching is outstanding and inspires, enthuses and motivates students in their thirst for knowledge". Valley Park's OFSTED is older, but this is the third most oversubscribed school of any type in the county, confirming its outstanding reputation, and possibly being the only non-selective school in Kent commanding a house price premium.
Thus we can be sure that the proposed satellite (preferred to annexe) grammar school will be outstandingly managed, an essential quality if it is to pick its way through the minefield ahead. In one leap it overcomes my own concerns about its organisation.......