A grammar school’s plans to expand and take on more pupils have been slammed by campaigners who say neighbouring schools will be badly affected.

John Hampden Grammar School (JHGS) in High Wycombe has launched a consultation on its bid to increase their intake from 150 to 180 children each year – but the move has been criticised by campaign group, Local Equal Excellent (LEE), who have urged the school to abandon the plans.

The JHGS plan has been revealed in the wake of a £50 million allocation by the Government to help grammar schools grow.

The pot of money – called the Selective Schools Expansion Fund (SSEF) – aims to support schools where there is a need for extra places, where they have “ambitious” plans for increasing access for disadvantaged pupils and plans to work with other local schools to increase access for disadvantaged pupils.

JHGS says it will be applying for funding because it meets all the criteria. However, LEE campaigner, Rebecca Hickman, said the school has not set out any plans in their consultation to improve access for disadvantaged pupils.

She said: We keep hearing that disadvantaged children are being prioritised by grammar schools. But the truth is grammar schools are just waving admissions policies at the Government that look like they help disadvantaged children but make absolutely no difference on the ground.

“It’s pure window dressing, but the Government don’t seem to care.”

Campaigners have launched a petition urging JHGS to abandon their expansion plans, saying they have not taken into account the impact it will have on nearby schools – “reducing the academic and social diversity of those schools”.

Katy Simmons, chair of governors at Cressex Community School, said it would be “disappointing if John Hampden were to pursue narrow self-interest at the cost of the wider interests of local children”.

She said: “They should consider how their expansion plans might impact negatively on neighbouring schools, by reducing their academic and social diversity.

“I would urge them to work cooperatively with other secondary schools, rather than proposing plans that might be detrimental to the majority of local children.”

The JHGS consultation says if successful, the money from the fund would be used to make “significant investment” in the school’s facilities, equipping teaching and learning spaces with the “latest technology”.

It adds: “Wycombe is growing; investment is taking place to improve the facilities for Wycombe residents. New housing developments will increase the demand for school places.

“Historically John Hampden has played an integral role in the town’s success. The school is committed to providing the best educational experience for the largest number of students in Wycombe through its outreach programme with local schools and by increasing the number of places available at John Hampden Grammar School.”

Tracey Hartley, the school's head teacher, said that in 2017, JHGS' disadvantaged students made more progress than any other state secondary school in High Wycombe, and was the only school with a positive Progress 8 score. 

She said: "JHGS is bidding for a proportion of the money available to help to raise the level of attainment and achievement of young people in High Wycombe and the local area.

"Should the school secure the additional funding we will able to offer more outreach programmes with local primary schools, enable the local community to use our facilities and provide more places for parents who wish their child to have a grammar school education."

Any comments about the plans should be forwarded to the school by Monday, July 9, by emailing Headspa@jhgs.bucks.sch.uk.

To view the petition, go to www.change.org/p/headspa-jhgs-bucks-sch-uk-john-hampden-grammar-school-stop-your-expansion-plans.