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Kent non-selective starts consultation into converting into a grammar school by start of 2018 academic year

PUBLISHED: 09:12 16 September 2016

Prime minister Theresa May

Prime minister Theresa May

School quick off the mark following Theresa May’s loosening of previous restrictions on grammar provision

A non-selective school in Kent has become the first to make a bid to become a grammar following Theresa May’s overhaul of the educational system.

The prime minister’s pledge to encourage the creation of more grammars has been a hot political potato in recent weeks, but now Meopham School, near Gravesend, has become the first to say it wants to upgrade.

The school currently caters for just over 500 mixed-ability students and is run by the expanding Swale Academies Trust.

Jon Whitcombe, principal of the trust which already includes schools in Sittingbourne and Whitstable, explained: “Standards of attainment have risen significantly in recent years at Meopham and results for 2016 place the school as one of the top performing non selective schools in Kent.

“Meopham School currently has a very high number of bright and able pupils who are already being challenged and pushed to perform at and, in many cases, exceed that which would be expected in a grammar school setting. We also have a completely new and exciting set of buildings currently being built ready for occupation in 2017 with high quality specialist provision which will cater for the most able.

“We understand from our knowledge of the local community that there is a need for additional grammar school places in the area.

“We also believe many parents would welcome the opportunity to have a local mixed grammar school provision as an alternative to the current single sex grammar schools.”

Mr Whitcombe is now writing to parents to seek their views on the school becoming a mixed entry grammar for new entrants from the September 2018 term.

A spokesman added: “It is important to stress that, were this proposal to occur, those students currently in the school who have not passed the Kent selection test would continue to be taught and supported to achieve their full potential. However, from 2018 entrance would be via the Meopham selection test.

“The trust recognises this is a potentially contentious issue. However, it is important to stress that this proposal is at the very earliest stages of development and the trust is actively interested in ensuring a thorough and balanced discussion over what is right for the school and the community prior to any decision being taken.”

The initial consultation closes on September 28.

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