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Grammar schools in Dartford coming 'under siege' from London families

PUBLISHED: 09:54 19 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:54 19 June 2017

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The number of appeals being heard at the schools is understood to have increased dramatically on last year

Grammar schools in north Kent are coming “under siege” from London families desperate to place their children at some of the county’s top selectives, an education consultant has warned.

Figures obtained by former Gravesend head teacher Peter Read suggest the number of appeals being heard at Wilmington Grammar School for Boys have increased dramatically on last year.

It is understood around 150 appeals are being heard this summer - a signifcant rise compared to the 109 appeals reported in 2016, when just six of those were upheld.

A similar trend is also understood to be emerging at Wilmington Grammar School for Girls as well as the two Dartford grammars.

Mr Read - who runs the consultancy website kentadvice.co.uk - told us there was no doubt where the soaring numbers have come from.

“The reason behind it is absolutely clear - it’s children from London seeking grammar school places in Kent,” he said.

“Dartford Boys is also reporting similar figures - a lot of them are the same children because they want a place anywhere.

“The two girls’ schools [in Dartford and Wilmington] are not quite as bad but equally under siege.”

All children are entitled to make an appeal if they are not accepted by their chosen school, and these are currently ongoing across the county, following the tests back in September.

However, given that right, an option hundreds appear to be taking up, the pressure is growing on those who voluntarily sit on panels and determine whether children are to be admitted to their preferred schools.

Mr Read said: “Volunteer appeal panellists can be hearing up to 15 appeals a day, for ten days.

“Quite simply, the process, with a success rate likely to fall to less than five per cent for entry this summer, is becoming unsustainable and pointless for the vast majority of appellants and these schools.

“The level of commitment from unpaid volunteers is utterly unreasonable, and I anticipate there could soon be a mass refusal to undertake such enormous sessions, which surely offer so little satisfaction to those who offer their services.”

The four schools have not responded to requests for comment.

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