12:39PM, Thursday 15 October 2015
The Royal Borough’s cabinet member for children’s services has confirmed that plans for a grammar school are back on the table.
Cllr Philip Bicknell (Con, Park) was speaking shortly after the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, confirmed late this morning that the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge would be allowed to open a new site in Sevenoaks.
The decision to open a so-called ‘satellite school’ effectively allows a ban on the opening of new grammar schools to be side-stepped.
The issue was on the Royal Borough’s cabinet agenda as recently as last month, when it was decided that the idea would not be pursued until the plans for the Sevenoaks school were given the go-ahead.
Speaking about what the decision would mean for the Royal Borough, Cllr Bicknell said: “It means that the decision that we put on the back-burner at the last cabinet meeting now comes to the front and we kickstart where we were left in suspension.
“It doesn’t mean we will definitely have one, but we will start on the process - we will go back to cabinet and see if they want to bring it to the front.
“I think it’s absolutely the right thing to be pursuing.
“I think it’s the right thing for the government and I think Nicky Morgan needs applauding for the decision.
“And I say that not just because I’m an ex-grammar school boy, but because what we’re trying to achieve is choice, so that parents can choose the best education institution in the borough and I think grammar schools will form a certain part of that choice.”
Cllr Bicknell also sought to allay any concerns about what today’s decision could mean for plans to expand Furze Platt Senior School in Furze Platt Road, Maidenhead.
When asked if any future grammar school plans for the Royal Borough would affect the expansion, he said: “No. The expansion programme that we agreed is full steam ahead - that has no bearing on the grammar school programme.
“That will be a totally separate institution.”
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