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First look at proposed Rochester Grammar School Expansion

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Rochester Grammar School reveals plans to improve opportunities and outcomes for disadvantaged children


Leading school sets out vision for £3.5m funding


The high-performing Rochester Grammar School (RGS) has set out its vision of how it will use Department for Education funding to benefit disadvantaged children and young people.

RGS, part of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, a family of 16 schools ranked in the top 10 of multi-academy trusts in the country by the Government, has been awarded £3.5m funding from the Department for Education’s (DfE) Selective Schools Expansion Fund.

The funding will go on increasing the number of places in each year group at the school by 30, to 205 (from September 2020), prioritising applications from children from disadvantaged backgrounds who pass the 11+, and increasing teaching at primary schools in Medway with high levels of disadvantaged children, helping improve their results in the 11+.

The plans reveal that:

  • Teachers from RGS will lead Maths and English sessions for groups of Year 6 children in primary schools with high levels of disadvantage
    • These lessons will be available to children in Thinking Schools primaries (Cedar Primary, Gordons’ Junior, New Horizons Primary, and All Faiths Primary) as well as some primaries outside the Trust.
  • RGS sixth-form students will provide Maths support to nearby primary schools with high levels of disadvantaged students
    • A quarter of all GCSE results at RGS last year were a grade 8 or 9 (equivalent to an A or A*), with 15 students achieving all grade 8s and 9s in English Literature, English Language, and Maths – some of the top grades in the country.
  • RGS will change its admissions to prioritise disadvantaged applicants
    • Where RGS previously accepted children in order of their performance in the Medway 11+, it will change its admissions from September 2020 so that disadvantaged children from Medway who pass the 11+, live near the school, and are eligible for the pupil premium (PP) are given preference.
    • Students at existing Thinking Schools primaries will also continue to receive preference, allowing children to have an all-through Thinking Schools education, which uses the principles of metacognition to encourage children to “think about their thinking”. The Trust was last month ranked in the top 10 multi-academy trusts in the country and the best in the South East.
  • Year 5 students from local primary schools will be invited to join RGS’s STEM club
    • This will give them the chance to take part in science, technology, engineering, and maths lessons at the grammar school.
  • RGS will lead a community choir for children from local primary schools
    • RGS’ choir is in the semi-finals of this year’s BBC Songs of Praise schools competition.
  • RGS will lead sport sessions for students from primary schools which would give access to students from deprived backgroundsto the new facilities and familiarise them with the school and what it has to offer

RGS is the only school in the South East to receive the funding.

Planned enhancements to existing facilities at the school include:

  • A new, Sports England-approved sports hall,
  • The refurbishment of the existing gym into a Creative Activity Space,
  • The construction of a new Art and DT block of two classrooms, and
  • The conversion of two existing classroom into Science labs.

Once completed, RGS will lead sport sessions for students from local primary schools, offering students from deprived backgrounds access to the new facilities.

The first round of the Fund has provided 16 selective schools nationally with capital funding to create new facilities and widen opportunities for disadvantaged students. Only schools with the most ambitious plans to help disadvantaged students were successful in receiving funding, after a rigorous selection process.

Clare Brinklow, Head of School at Rochester Grammar School, said:     

“We are so pleased to have been awarded funding to enhance our offering at RGS and specifically to help widen opportunities for students of all backgrounds.


“We’re delighted to announce our plans for sharing the expertise, facilities and resources at RGS with more students from the local area – in particular at local primary schools with cohorts which have high proportions of students from less well-off backgrounds.


“We know how important it is to offer the best possible opportunities to students at the earliest age, and are looking forward to offering opportunities to even more students from Medway.”


Stuart Gardner, Chief Executive of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, said:       

“Our plans for the funding awarded to RGS will allow the school to prioritise disadvantaged students, improve outcomes and opportunities for this group of children enhance facilities, and grow class sizes to meet demand in the local area.


“Contributing to widening opportunities locally is hugely important to us, and we are delighted that the funding permits us to offer more students the chance of a Thinking Schools education.