Update(20 May) – please read main article below first: BBC SE broadcast an item on 18th May about correspondence they had obtained by FOI, between Kent County Council and Government. This explains the delay in approving the building works for the new Trinity Free School on the old Wildernesse site in Sevenoaks. The problem is that the project is linked to the proposed Weald of Kent Grammar School annex on the same site and government has delayed a decision on approving the annex for over six months, as explained below. This item continues in the main body of this article, also below. In any case, with Trinity School about to grow by another 90 students in September, it appears that there is now approval for temporary accommodation to be erected on the site so the whole school can move there for the new academic year.
The proposed Weald of Kent Grammar School annex in Sevenoaks to cater for local girls surely came closer to approval with the Conservative victory in the election last week. Not being a lawyer, I could not see what was wrong with the most recent proposal currently with the government, as it avoided the fatal flaws in two earlier proposals described in previous articles on this website. Nonetheless, government sat on the proposal without making a decision for six months before the election, presumably because of its contentious nature. Certainly, the political ramifications of approving a new annex are enormous, not just in Kent but also likely to spread to other parts of the country, with the Home Secretary having already advocated a satellite grammar school in Maidenhead back in November, as explained in my most recent article.
As I see them, the subsequent issues for Sevenoaks and other parts of the country are as follows:
KCC has filed a new letter with Sevenoaks District Council, reproduced below, relating to its Planning Application for the Sevenoaks Grammar School Annexe and Trinity Free School. This sets out a refined version of the case for the annexe, including KCC’s continued commitment to find a solution to the problems previously covered here.
Probably the most significant paragraph is the penultimate one, which refers to an invitation to submit further proposals from an interested school. I presume this refers to a local single-sex grammar school, but following previous conclusions it would probably also need to become co-educational......
Weald of Kent Grammar School is consulting with parents about taking over the proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School annex and running it as an integral part of the school. I understand that Consultation papers are being sent out to parents this evening, and will expand and update this article when I have seen them.
However, my view is that this is the first feasible proposal to come forward and stands every chance of meeting the legal obstacles raised over the previous proposals by Weald and Invicta Grammar School. I have written several previous articles on the project and its history.
The proposal is for Weald to become co-educational and then operate the Sevenoaks annex (hopefully renamed) as an integral part of a twin site grammar school, benefitting from the additional excellent facilities planned for the new buildings. It will have a single set of admissions criteria. The school is already planning to change its oversubscription criteria for 2015 admission in line with this proposal.....
Update 2 Friday evening
In a dramatic development of the Sevenoaks annexe/satellite proposal, Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge has proposed an alternative scheme to the one out for consultation by the Valley Invicta Academies Trust based in Maidstone.
In a letter to parents, Weald headteacher Mrs Johnson stated that........
Both The Judd School, Tonbridge and Skinners School, Tunbridge Wells, have announced they are increasing their intakes by 30 places for entry in 2013, taking each of them to to five forms of entry, at the request of Kent County Council. You will find explanations for the two decisions on The Judd and Skinners School websites. KCC is planning to open its proposed Sevenoaks Annexe to accommodate four additional forms of grammar school entry (two girls & two boys) in September 2015, but this would stilll leave continued pressure on places for 2013 and 2014 entry. The above decision eases the problem for boys for 2013, and one can speculate it may well be extended to 2014.
Last year, there were major problems in West Kent, .....
Updated with outcomes of Buckinghamshire's solution to 11 plus issues
The pressures on Kent’s eleven plus testing procedures continue to increase as further evidence mounts to underline the East/West divide. At the bottom of this article you will find Buckinghamshire's (13 grammar schools) solution to similar problems. The main pressure is coming from the intensive coaching culture that pervades much of West Kent and which is responsible for seeing the Kent Test pass mark rise way above the natural level. Kent selects 21% of eleven year olds across the county, the imbalance ranging in state schools from 10% in Dover to 36% in Sevenoaks, statistics which underline the extent of the problem. This range would increase even further if private schools are included (I am waiting for the figures from KCC). This means there are able children in East Kent being deprived of a grammar school place even though there are vacancies, and some children in West Kent securing grammar school places not on grounds of ability, but through intensive coaching. West Kent children who have not been coached can lose out in two ways if they don’t make automatic selection, as statistics show it is harder to gain a place amongst the additional 4% added through headteacher assessment, and far harder to win a place on appeal than in the east of the county......
I now have official details of the pattern of children crossing the Kent and Medway boundaries to take up secondary school places, and it gives a very different picture from the more lurid headlines which greeted the initial figures released by Kent County Council on 1st March. I have divided the cross border movement into four sections below: North West Kent; West Kent; South Kent; and Medway. I don't have precise figures for which part of county children live in so some of these figures are best estimates. The headline figures are: 560 children from out of Kent are taking up places in Kent secondary schools, with 477 going the other way. But don't jump to conclusions. Read the following:...
Please note that this page has been written to respond to controversy around Paul Carter's remarks of October 2009. It does not take on the fundamentally larger question of the rationale of the selective system in Kent, which is a political position not broadly challenged by Kent residents.
In a news report in the Independent newspaper, Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, proposes an expansion of grammar school places in the West of the County, to be balanced by a reduction in places available in the East.
This article formed the basis for a Report in Kent on Sunday, July 2009, about the School Adjudicator's decsion not to order changes to the admission rules for the Judd and Skinners School for September 2010 entry. Ther has been a subsequent Report in October 2010.You will be able to find both full Adjudicators decisions on this page.