Rugby grammar heads: £50m funding a welcome gesture but won't have a big impact

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An additional £50 million of funding for grammar schools is not likely to have a dramatic impact, said the head teachers of Rugby’s two grammar schools.

The Advertiser spoke to the head teachers to get their reaction after the Government announced £50 million of extra funding for the country’s 163 grammar schools.

Head of all-boys school Lawrence Sheriff, Dr Peter Kent, said: “In the totality of education spending in this country, £50 million shared between around 160 grammar schools in the country is a small amount but we are still digesting the information.”

Dr Kent went on to describe the funding as a welcome gesture despite the relatively small figure.

Charlotte Marten, head teacher of the all-girls Rugby High School, said: “I don’t think it will impact us.”

Ms Marten said in recent years the school secured £1.6 million to build extra classrooms and £1.4 million to build sports facilities and there are no plans at present to expand.

Both heads responded to criticism that the Government’s decision to allocate more funding for grammar schools may not be fair.

Ms Marten said: “There’s a funding crisis for all state schools.”

She said the Government has outlined a need for a lot more school places, adding: “The secretary of state has publicly said they want grammar schools to be part of the solution.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the funding would be available for selective schools that take steps to become more accessible for disadvantaged pupils.

Both heads said the schools have taken steps to give more children from disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to get places.

Ms Marten said: “Part of it is getting the message that these schools are for the whole community and not just for a section of it.”

Dr Kent said: “Charlotte Marten and I meet regularly to discuss how we can broaden access.

“In fact, we had a chat a few weeks ago – both schools feel very strongly about it. Both schools have lowered the 11- plus qualifying score for disadvantaged pupils.”

Ms Marten said Rugby High School undertakes outreach work with local primary schools – adding that the school is trying to make sure the primary schools it works with contain a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

Speaking in Parliament, Rugby MP Mark Pawsey said: “The secretary of state’s announcement will be very welcome in Rugby, where there is huge demand for our two selective schools and our one bilateral school, and I know parents will be very supportive of his principle of prioritisation for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Mr Pawsey said the objective will be assisted if every primary school pupil has the opportunity to be considered for a place at a selective school.