Grammar schools to save places for Sutton pupils in landmark move
Grammar schools in Sutton are for the first time going to set aside places for Sutton pupils in a landmark move for local education.
Nonsuch High School for Girls and Sutton Grammar School for Boys have agreed to set aside places for local pupils with other grammar schools set to follow suit to ease the school place crisis gripping Sutton.
Over recent years the number of children in the borough has skyrocketed beyond the number of places available at local schools.
The situation has not been helped by the number of grammar schools in the area, which select students based on their ability rather than where they come from.
But Sutton Council has reached an agreement with the Partnership of Sutton Secondary Schools, made up of the borough's independent and grammar schools, where they will set aside places for children from the borough as they expand.
Nonsuch and Sutton Grammar will each set 15 places aside for Sutton pupils in the 2015 intake.
Education leaders have welcomed the new arrangement, saying it will benefit Sutton pupils and the schools themselves.
Gordon Ironside, headteacher at Sutton Grammar School in Manor Lane, said: "The Partnership of Sutton Secondary Schools was asked to contribute to extra places and we agreed to be part of the first phase.
"Sutton Council has an increased population to deal with so we have modified our admissions policy to help with that.
"We take 120 students at the moment but that is going up to 135 in 2015 and those extra 15 places will be for boys from Sutton.
"We consider this to be our contribution to easing the problems with school places in Sutton.
"Personally, I like the fact that this school is small and I wouldn't want it getting much bigger than it is.
"In future I'd rather the other selective schools alter their policies to take Sutton students as the situation requires."
Philip Sides, headteacher at Nonsuch High, added: "We are aware of a shortfall in places in the London Borough of Sutton and to accommodate those affected we will take more Sutton residents.
"It is a popular local authority for people to move to because of the good schools.
"All the students we take will still have to be of the ability to benefit from a grammar school education."
Sutton Council is working to deal with a school place crisis that resulted in several prospective primary school children being left without places for next year.
To combat the situation the council is working to build new schools, including a secondary school on the site of Sutton Hospital, and has installed so-called bulge classes - temporary classrooms - in many schools to cope with heightened demand.
The changes to the grammar schools' admission policies will further ease the situation.
Sue Smith of the Sutton Teachers' Committee, said; "I absolutely welcome this, it is good news for Sutton children and Sutton parents.
"Now I hope that more Sutton grammar schools follow suit. It is up to them but this shows negotiations are working."
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