New secondary school in Croydon 'could be a grammar'
CROYDON'S education boss has opened the door for the creation of a grammar school.
The council wants a top academic organisation to take on the running of the new secondary school planned for South Norwood – and is indicating there will be no barriers if it turns out to be selective.
Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: "Realistically the school taking on the operation has to be an academy and our conclusion is that we need more academically high-performing schools in the borough.
"What is certain is that we are looking for a school that can demonstrate it is aspirational and that its commitment to pupils is borne out by excellent results, both in terms of Ofsted ratings and examination criteria.
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"If that means we eventually end up with a partner whose admissions criteria includes selection tests to identify pupils with the highest level of aptitude, this would simply add a new dimension to the range of options available in the borough."
Although selective grammars exist in areas including Kent, opening new state-funded schools is forbidden by law.
However, the ban has been bypassed by Kent county councillors who, earlier this year, voted to allow the creation of a new grammar school in Sevenoaks under the proviso it was a "satellite" of an existing Tunbridge Wells school.
But the prospect of the 11-plus returning to Croydon is politically sensitive.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council's Labour opposition, told the Advertiser: "The idea of introducing selection is a categorical change of accepted policy that all children would be treated equally within the locality of the school. This would be a retrograde step but then nothing this Conservative council does surprises me."
The council has set aside £15 million to cover costs of expanding and remodelling the site in Sandown Road, which at present houses the South Norwood adult education centre.
The centre is moving to Thornton Heath in a reorganisation of adult education services, leaving the site free to help meet demand for extra school places in the north of the borough.
The idea is to provide a four-form entry secondary school but as this would not be viable as a stand-alone school, the council is seeking to market it as an annex to an existing school.
Applicants ranging from academies and community schools to faith and grammar schools are invited to register interest in the new venture.