First new grammar school in 50 years


Education secretary, Nicky Morgan, is to allow a grammar school in Kent to build a new “annexe” providing additional places for 450 girls.

Weald of Kent school in Tonbridge will open a site in Sevenoaks, Kent - side-stepping a ban on new grammar schools.

When criticised about the decision, she claimed it would not open the floodgates for more grammar schools and that this was a genuine expansion of an existing school - describing it as "one school, two sites".

"it does not reflect a change in this government's position on selective schools," she said.

Any bids from other grammar schools would still face the statutory prohibition on new selective schools and would need to meet the criteria for being a genuine expansion, said the education secretary.

There are 163 existing state-run grammar schools in the UK, which admit pupils based on academic selection – but legislation was passed in 1998 prohibiting the opening of any new grammar schools. Mrs Morgan’s controversial decision will allow Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge to expand by opening a satellite school nine miles away in Sevenoaks.

A poll published in April 2015 by ComRes found 51% of British adults support allowing new grammar schools to open. Their appeal seems to endure, despite strong research evidence showing that grammar schools generate inequality and perpetuate privilege.

The Sutton Trust, which promotes social mobility, highlighted research that less than 3% of pupils in grammar schools were entitled to free meals, compared with an average of 18% in the areas they serve.

Whilst the marginal pupil (who just passed the exam) in grammar schools does better, the marginal pupil (who just failed) in a comprehensive school does worse.

Other research from the UK has shown that children growing up in grammar school areas – where some would have gone to a grammar and some to a comprehensive – face much higher earnings inequality later in life than those growing in areas without grammar schools.