The Kent grammar school that controversially expanded by building a second school building in a town ten miles away from the main site has been rated ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted. The inspectors highlighted concerns about bullying, and there are now question marks over the leadership of the school. 

CF Chair, Dr Nuala Burgess, said, “The Weald of Kent grammar school and its expansion by means by its Sevenoaks ‘satellite’ was a plan bound to fail. It was obvious to everyone that a school in another town some 10 miles away was a separate school and required its own senior team and on-site Head. This  Ofsted rating is disappointing news for any school community, and especially for a grammar school which was once rated ‘Outstanding’. My heart goes out to every young person who attends either of these schools and the teachers who work in them because none of this is their fault.

“The legal loophole which allows for the creation of ‘satellite’ grammar schools should now be closed. There are serious questions about their legality. There are also serious questions to be asked of any grammar which claims it can effectively manage two school buildings and their pupils in buildings miles apart.

“Had Weald of Kent expanded its main site in a more usual way, the management team could have had better oversight of the school. No one can be sure whether the fact this school operates on two sites is a factor in the poor Ofsted rating, but this unusual set-up seems highly unlikely to help the effective management of a school. £19 million of public money was spent on promises made and broken. “

A Schools Week investigation found Weald of Kent was not the only grammar school to lose its ‘Outstanding’ rating, with thirteen selective schools downgraded in recent months, with 11 rated ‘good’ and two ‘requires improvement’.

Dr Nuala Burgess said, “There is an unhealthy and unevidenced idea that grammar schools automatically produce academic excellence. Many firmly believe the quality of a grammar school education is superior to other schools when in fact grammars simply engineer their results by means of carefully selecting pupils. We take no delight in any school being rated poorly by Ofsted but we do welcome the fact that Ofsted are starting to look more closely at what takes place within individual grammar schools. It seems that the ​days of ​rubber stamping all grammar schools with an ‘outstanding’ grade is coming to an end and we welcome this. Grammar schools should be made accountable for their teaching and learning in exactly the same way as every other school, and as frequently.

“There has been much talk of creating more grammar schools by a handful of Tory MPs who quote Ofsted ratings of selected grammar schools as unarguable proof that selection is a good thing and that more are needed. Mounting evidence shows us that grammar schools do not guarantee excellence. There is absolutely no reason to inflict the 11-plus on any more primary school children.”