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Dartford MP voices grammar school support, calling for two new schools in the borough

PUBLISHED: 11:09 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 14:15 08 August 2016

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson

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Mr Johnson was commenting in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph

Dartford’s MP Gareth Johnson has called for the borough to have two new schools to match increasing population in north Kent - backing the potential introduction of new grammar schools in the area.

Speaking in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, the Tory MP voiced his support for selective schools.

He told the paper: “We need new schools in Dartford to match the increase in population and I personally would like to see a new selective and non-selective school in the area.”

There are currently four grammar schools within Dartford, two within the town and another two in nearby Wilmington.

But education consultant Peter Read believes the problem lies with both Dartford grammar school’s selection criteria.

He said: “Most grammar schools tend to look at the local area, while the Dartford grammars offer many places to children from London.

“There isn’t a shortage in Dartford if they were to do as the Wilmington grammars do and focus on local children.”

Last month, education secretary Justine Greening said she was “prepared to be open-minded” about school selection, sparking belief that selective schools were on the verge of a return.

Mr Johnson’s comments came after the Sunday paper claimed Theresa May is set to give the green-light to opening new grammar schools - after they banned by Tony Blair in 1998.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “The prime minister has been clear that we need to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

“Every child should be allowed to rise as far as their talents will take them and birth should never be a barrier.

“Policies on education will be set out in due course.”

Whilst opening new grammar’s has been banned, existing schools are able to open annexes in nearby areas, as is currently happening in Sevenoaks.

Mr Johnson continued: “We must ensure all schools are successful. We will only achieve this when we recognise that children have different strengths.

“Some excel in a vocational environment and others in an academic one.

“Dartford has one of the best schooling provision in the country and grammar schools play an important role in that success.”

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