Agenda item

Outcomes of consultation on proposals to change three grammar schools from single gender to co-educational provisions

This report outlines the outcomes of the consultation on proposals for three Medway grammar schools to change their admissions arrangements from single sex to co-educational provisions.

A subsequent report to Cabinet, subject to comments from the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, will request Cabinet approval for proposals to continue, the next stage of which is for the three schools to formally consult on changing their admissions arrangements and to recommend to full council to fund the necessary building modifications to ensure appropriate facilities are available.




The Head of School Servicesintroduced the report which outlined the outcomes of the consultation on proposals for three Medway grammar schools to change their admissions arrangements from single sex to co-educational provisions.


Members then raised a number of comments and questions, which included:


  • Response rate – Members were disappointed in the low number of participation and responses to the consultation. It was commented that the consultation document was too complicated which may have impacted on the understanding of the questions contained in the document. It was considered that more could have been done to engage and understand how parents felt about this important decision and thought about the proposals put forward.


  • Consultation Process – in response to a question on how the process was managed, the officer said that all education provisions in Medway were sent the consultation document, with schools relied on to distribute the paperwork. Drop-in sessions were held at the grammar schools which were not very well attended but where people could attend to find out further information and have questions answered.  The majority of respondents were from secondary school parents with some primary and out of borough respondents. The number of respondents was disappointing but there was a wide range of themes in the responses.


  • Geographical Range – in response to a comment that geographical range to schools must be factored into decision making, the officer said this was one of the main things being looked into as the only co-education school for some parts of Medway was a considerable distance to children’s homes. The proposal would create a good spread of co-educational establishment and would enable children to attend a local school which they may not have been able to due to lack of availability in their local area and reduce the distance of travel.


By changing the arrangements would create a fairer access to schools for Medway pupils. The consultation was about whether to support this as a Council. The schools are academies, and they would conduct their own consultation. This consultation was about the figures and the Cabinet supporting the decision financially.


  • Selective Schools - it was commented that there was no formal policy on this kind of process in Medway and there was a need for a policy document within the Council on matters such as this.


  • Benefit of Changes - it was asked how this change would benefit Medway pupils when a large proportion of places in Medway grammar schools were from out of borough residents. The officer said that the changes would provide equal number of boys the opportunity and flexibility to attend a Medway school. It may have appeared that this would reduce spaces for girls, but it was confirmed that this was not the case as currently some of the girls’ places were taken up by out of borough girls.


  • Parental Choice it was commented that the proposed changes would increase places for boys but diminish spaces for girls, however the officer stated that it would increase the opportunity for places for Medway boys and girls. It was further commented that this reduced the places at single gender schools, which was a concern as there would be no protection for parental choice in this regard. Officers acknowledged this and agreed that further conversations were taking place alongside discussions on selection and changes to the Medway test.


  • Transport – in response to a question on the effect on transport policy and whether the policy would be changed, the officer said that transport policy would be looked into as part of the changes. Parents would be encouraged to utilise all five preferences in order to maximise their chances of being given a preferred school.


  • Funding – the proposed cost of funding from the Council towards this, was £2.5 million and due to come from future receipts of S106. It was asked if this had been costed up and if Trusts had been asked to contribute. The officer said that the budget had been costed formally with the three schools and was for adaptations to the schools. Discussions were taking place on how this would be phased. The finances proposed would come from the 2023/24 basic needs grants allocated from the DfE, and the school place planning strategy would set out how it its proposed funds would be utilised.


  • Regional Schools Commissioner(RSC) - it was asked if the RSC would support this project and if due to low number of consultees, they could reject the proposals. The officer advised that the RSC could reject the proposals, but they were aware of the current consultations and processes taking places as a result of informal conversations that had taken place. The Assistant Director, Education and SEND added that the RSC was reasonably content with the direction of travel. 




The Committee noted the report



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