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Grammar schools are safe with us: Kent Council replies

Markdance Cllr Mark Dance, the Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education in Kent County Council responding to Nick Seaton article says that Kent is investing more in grammar schools than other Council in the country.

I read with Nick Seaton's blog with interest, as it is absolutely untrue!

Grammar school places are offered to 25% of the total cohort of pupils in year 7 who showed the greatest ability in the Kent Test. This figure is adjusted upwards through independent appeals, consistently
ending up (over the past 10 years) at 27-28% of the cohort.

Furthermore there is exactly the same number of grammar schools as ten years ago; there have been no mergers or amalgamations. Kent County Council would be interested in opening another grammar school in West Kent, but as the law currently stands, Kent County Council is prohibited from this. We do not intend to close any grammar school in Kent nor is it our intention to amalgamate any grammar schools.
Grammar Schools are only at risk if they do not continue to attract sufficient numbers to be educationally viable at a time of falling secondary cohorts.

Federations differ from amalgamations; in a federation, the two schools remain separate institutions under law. No schools (including grammars) can be federated without the full support of the governing bodies. In Kent, five out of thirty-three grammar schools have chosen to federate; this is significantly less than one third, as quoted by Mr Seaton. Federations do not put schools at risk, rather grammar schools will often choose this route to protect their viability.

Also, Kent has championed parents receiving the Kent Test results prior to the submission of their school choices and this has resulted in the biggest increase of 'opting in' to the selection process ever. In September 2008, 57% of the Kent cohort took the Kent Test - Hardly discouraging!

With regard to BSF, Kent is investing more capital in Grammar Schools than any other local authority in the land - almost entirely through BSF - this is not a strategy that puts our selective system under threat.

To conclude, in Kent we are aware that a mixed economy of schools provides the greatest choice to parents. Grammar Schools are a fundamental component of this system and are here to stay.


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