Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

More grammar places bid unveiled

Child writing
Kent has 4,458 grammar places but 5,113 children have passed the 11-plus

Plans have been unveiled to boost the numbers of grammar school places in west Kent but reduce the number of places in the east of the county.

Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter said too few pupils passed the 11-plus in the east but in the west it was the opposite.

There are 4,458 grammar school places across Kent but 5,113 children passed the selective test this year.

Out of those who were successful, 993 lived outside the county.

Mr Carter said: "I intend to try and plan and provide for 25% of our secondary school places to be grammar school places in Kent."

One of the issues is that children want to come across the border from East Sussex
Marian Darke

He added: "In the east of the county there seems to be an over-provision of grammar school places, where there aren't enough people passing the test, while in west Kent it is completely the opposite.

"We are applying logic to the equation of providing grammar school places across the county."

The National Union of Teachers said problems were being compounded by the grammar school system.

Marian Darke, south east regional secretary, said: "One of the issues is that children want to come across the border from East Sussex into west Kent, increasing demand for grammar school places."

She said: "If Kent had good local schools for each child a lot of these problems could be avoided."

Credit crunch

The pressure group Comprehensive Future said the council's plan was not the answer.

Margaret Tulloch, from the group, said: "What we want to see is an end to selection at 11."

Independent education adviser Peter Read told BBC Kent some Kent pupils crossed the boundary the other way to go to state schools in Sussex.

He said pressure was increasing in west Kent because of the number of out-of-county applicants and a "coaching culture" that operated in the west of the county.

Mr Read said some schools awarded places to high-scorers no matter where they lived, with places in north Kent being offered to children as far away as Lewisham in south London.

He said it was increasingly evident during the credit crunch that parents saw grammar schools as good value, compared with independent schools.

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