Ban on new grammars confirmed but annexe loophole remains

    Weald of Kent Grammar School

    THE Education Secretary has revealed that one of the Conservatives’ recent fl agship policies will no longer be pursued by the new minority government.

    Justine Greening confirmed the reversal after the proposed lifting of a ban on new grammar schools was dropped from the Queen’s Speech last week.

    Plans to reintroduce a new era of selective education had proved divisive with 33 of the county’s head teachers writing to Ms Greening in December and warning of the ‘philosophical and systemic flaws’ in the policy.

    Despite this, a lifting of the ban formed a key part of the Conservatives’ recent manifesto. But with a wafer-thin working majority in parliament, the reform is now considered too divisive for the Tories.

    Anti-grammar campaigners, Comprehensive Future, argue that new selective schools can still easily be set up by building ‘annexes’ to current schools in neighbouring towns.

    In Sevenoaks, the annexe to the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge will open in September.

    The group argue that the only difference between this and a standalone grammar school is that Sevenoaks pupils will be bussed the ten-mile journey to the original school one day per fortnight.

    Melissa Benn of Comprehensive Future said they were ‘thrilled by the news’ adding: “However, we worry that annexe grammar school expansions will permit a slow but steady expansion of selection by other means. We know many schools have already explored using this shady route to avoid the law.”