HAMPSHIRE’S first grammar school for decades could be open within a few years, in a move civic chiefs claim could ‘enhance’ education in the borough.
Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said that he is committed to exploring the potential options of bringing a grammar school to the borough for the first time in almost 30 years which should be included in the new 6,000 Welborne home development near Fareham.
He said: “Adding grammar schools to the mix will provide an alternative choice for education, it’s a lifelong ambition of mine to bring a grammar school to the borough and Welborne would be the perfect location.
“It will not only offer a unique style of schooling but will offer great opportunities to those students who perform exceptionally well academically.”
Cllr Woodward’s comments follow education secretary Justine Greening’s announcement on April 12 to create a new style of grammar school that will bring them into the 21st century increasing the options for young people “to truly help make the most of their talents”.
The move will reverse the “arbitrary” ban on the creation of new grammar schools that has been in place since 1998.
Ms Greening said: “Grammars do work for other groups in our society, not just the wealthy. The new schools we will create will support young people from every background, not the privileged few.”
The last grammar schools in the borough were Fareham Girl’s Grammar School on Birchwood Grove, in Fareham, which closed in 1975, and Princes Grammar School on Park Lane, also in Fareham, which followed in 1989.
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes also welcomed the news: “The current arbitrary rules that block new grammar schools from being established or current schools from expanding are based on ideological dogma so it is vital that we continue to improve the standards of all schools."
Currently under the proposals, Welborne will have three primary schools; two in the south and one in the north of the development, and one secondary school but it is yet to be decided whether this would be a grammar or not.
Figures from the Department of Education also show that Welborne will be built in an area that had a 7.6 per cent spare capacity rate at primary level last year but primary-age pupil numbers are only expected to rise in the borough by 6.5 per cent by 2019-20.
Further plans for the new ‘21st-century’ grammar schools are expected to be revealed in the coming months.