At last night's meeting of Medway Council the Conservative Group were disappointed, yet unsurprised, to see every single member of the Labour Group abstain from the vote to pass a motion brought forward by Cllr. Martin Potter. This equates to failure of the Labour Group to support Medway's grammar schools and opportunities for Medway's children.
The motion reads as follows:
Medway has a track record of excellent and ever improving educational delivery in schools across all phases, and this Council recognises the excellent role our grammar schools play in raising aspirations for our most academically gifted children regardless of income or background.
Furthermore, the highly academic environment and enriching ethos of Medway’s grammar schools provide an excellent quality of education, transforming the life chances of their students whilst narrowing the attainment gap. National research shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve better results in selective schools, and 98% of these schools are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.
Medway is fortunate to be home to six superb grammar schools, all rated as Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, and the Council has a policy of maintaining a 25% proportion of secondary school places as selective provision.
However, the popularity of Medway’s grammar schools (over 3000 pupils took last year's Medway Test), combined with an increasing school age population means there has been a significant rise in the number of selective applications.
This Council acknowledges that work has already been undertaken in order to address this increase through the expansion of existing grammar schools - creating 650 additional grammar school places in recent years. However, this Council also acknowledges that there are concerns amongst grammar school heads that existing schools are now reaching, or are close to, ideal capacity.
The Council has also worked with our grammar schools to change admission policies so their oversubscription criteria prioritises applicants on distance over their Medway Test score (provided they have met the selective score). The admissions policy changes means Medway grammar schools will best allocate their school places for local children within the rules of the Admissions Code and in accordance with the Greenwich ruling.
The Council notes that 5 out of 6 Medway grammar schools have made this change already with the last remaining school due to implement the change for the 2020 intake.
This Council further notes that, unlike other education provision, there is currently no formal means to fund a new grammar school because they are prohibited and options for satellite schools are extremely limited. In addition, both the means to fund further expansion, and the potential to add further capacity at some of Medway’s existing grammar schools is very limited.
In light of the above this Council commits to:
- Working with our grammar schools in Medway to make the case to the Department for Education for a new grammar school or satellite school to be located in Medway.
- Writing to all three Medway MPs requesting they back this proposal and continue to support the Council in its efforts to meet the local demand for school places across all phases, abilities and needs.
The Labour Group even proceeded to shamelessly present an amendment to this motion, which included the instruction to 'delete' the Conservative pledge for the Council to continue 'working with our local grammar schools'.
By way of these actions, the Labour Group have revealed both their lack of understanding of the critical role grammar schools play across Medway, and their lack of support for widening and enhancing the opportunities available to Medway's young people.
The Labour Group have time and time again revealed themselves to be political group that cannot be trusted with the future of Medway. Medway Conservatives encourage you to use all available votes to Vote Conservative on May 2nd.