Why Weald of Kent should herald a change in the law

Why Weald of Kent should herald a change in the law

Ten grammar schools are reportedly set to submit expansion bids hot-on-the-heels of Nicky Morgan’s brave decision to let the Weald of Kent Grammar School branch out into another area of the county.

And I for one welcome the snowball effect this decision seems to be having.

Central Bedfordshire Council has already called on the government to grant a ‘decision in principle’ to explore the setting up of annexe grammar schools from other counties into their patch – and has earmarked Dunstable or Leighton Buzzard as places with the most demand.

This would be even more far-reaching than the Weald of Kent decision as it would see selective education re-introduced into a county that has not seen grammar schools since the 1960s.

And they’re not alone.

Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton, south London, has expressed an interest in opening a site in non-selective Croydon.

Grammar schools in Dorset and Slough are also said to be interested in expanding, with the Borough of Poole identifying expansion at its two grammar schools as a way of meeting the demand for extra secondary school places.

Doubtless, there will be many critics horrified at the precedent the Weald of Kent decision seems to be setting and I wouldn’t at all be surprised that a legal challenge is mounted to try and put a brake on this cascade.

Me? I would abhor such a stand.

What these turn of events clearly show is the great demand for another strand of education for our children.

I’m a great believer in parental choice and that mum and dad know what is best for their child – and that includes education.

By not allowing new grammar schools to be built you are effectively removing a choice of education for the majority of parents and children in this country.

I strongly feel there is a place for all types of education in all our counties. There’s no reason why free schools, academies and grammar schools cannot all sit comfortably together in the same area.

And crucially, having more grammar schools will increase the chances of academically bright children from underprivileged areas securing a place. More places will lower the competition and easing that pressure will create more sensible entrance policies.

So rather than create new grammar places by stealth – as seems to be happening – let’s go the whole hog and change the law and allow the development of new grammar schools in every town.

It’s time to stop stifling choice.