Could grammar schools face a challenge?

Sir Thomas Fremantle School headteacher Darren Lyon
Sir Thomas Fremantle School headteacher Darren Lyon

A free school head claims that the rise in progessive types of education could give grammar schools in Bucks a run for their money.

Darren Lyon, head at the Sir Thomas Freemantle School in Winslow, says that free schools like his could soon be luring pupils who pass the 11+ away from grammar schools.

Mr Lyon claims that a good comprehensive education, small class sizes and an hour a day of extra curricular activity is a recipe for success, and the school, which opened into 2013 is already severely oversubscribed.

He said: “You can’t deny that grammar schools are very high quality schools, and there is an argument that if you get into these schools you get a better education.

“But we take all pupils including those who have passed the 11+ and provide a traditional curriculum.

“We also have small class sizes, and that is one of the things that people always say about independent schools, we have about 20 pupils per class.

“The children here also do more sport and all our year sevens get the chance to learn an instrument which is very rare inmainstream schools.”

The school currently teaches 200 pupils, and will have a capacity of 600 by the time it is fully up and running.

There is a waiting list for places in all year groups.

But Mr Lyon admitted that the current siteat The Winslow Centre bring with it some challenges, and a planned new site will expand what teachers and pupils are able to do.

He said: “We are awaiting our new site, which will be completed in 2016 , The Winslow centre is not a state-of-the-art building, another challalenge is being accepted in Buckinghamshire because we are so new.”

To read the arguments for and against grammar schools and the 11+ turn to our special report on pages 14&15.