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Marlow grammar school given funds to expand

A grammar school in Marlow has been granted funds to accommodate more pupils from poorer backgrounds.

Sir William Borlase’s, in West Street, is one of 16 selective state schools in England to be given permission to create new places as part of the Department for Education’s £50 million selective school expansion fund announced in May.

The money has been granted on the condition that the schools plan to admit pupils from poorer backgrounds and change their admission arrangements to increase access.

Grammar schools select their pupils by means of the 11-plus examination taken by children at age 11.

Headteacher Kay Mountfield said: “I am delighted to share the news that Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School has been successful in our bid for expansion funding.

“This will enable us to create an additional 30 places in Year 7 starting in September 2020, improving access to a grammar school for more local children regardless of socio-economic background. 

“With one more form of entry we can contribute to supporting the demand for more places.”

Of the 30 places, 10 will be prioritised for disadvantaged children – those eligible for pupil premium – who do not reach the qualifying score in the standard transfer test.

The school teaches around 1,100 boys and girls aged 11-18.

Miss Mountfield added: “The funding is targeted to improve and expand our facilities,

creating extra classroom spaces and a sports hall to support the health and well-being of our pupils and staff.

“Our governors and staff are committed to the new opportunity.”

Critics of grammar schools have expressed disappointment with the news, despite the promise to accommodate pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Peter Prior, chairman of the Maidenhead-based mineral extraction company Summerleaze, campaigned against the prospect of a satellite grammar school in the Royal Borough as part of the Excellent Education for Everyone group. He believes the education system should be a level playing field.

“We should not give children a better chance than another just because they happen to do well in an exam,” he said.

“The vast majority [of children] fail, and that immediately gives them the feeling they are not up to standard.

“Probably, it will mean that more children go from Maidenhead to Marlow for their education. But the Maidenhead schools will still give a good education.”

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