The Department for Education says it will provide a “tailored package of support” to grammar schools that want to build a satellite annexe on a different site.
The practice has roused criticism from campaigners, who say that it would effectively mean the creation of new grammar schools, which is supposed to be against the law.
The DfE issued the guidance today as part of the second phase of its grammar school expansion programme through which grammar schools that wish to expand can bid for a share of £50 million.
The guidance states that, due to limited funds, there will only be cash available for a small number of Category 2 projects (those that involve satellite expansions or land acquisition on a different site).
'Backdoor route' to new grammar schools?
But it states: “Any projects that the department determines to be Category 2, which pass the initial assessment, will be allocated a tailored package of support as part of the project planning process.
"Any applicants who think their bids may fall into this category should consider the support they will need and the estimated cost, and include this in the initial plans they submit to the department.”
The Comprehensive Future campaign group has branded satellite annexes as the “backdoor route” to new grammar schools being created and says that the practice is aimed at “avoiding existing laws” to create entirely new grammar schools, which is currently illegal.
Chair of the group, Dr Nuala Burgess, said: "It's quite wrong that schools exploring dubious plans for a satellite expansion are given special support by the DfE.
"Most people would use simple common sense and say that a building serving a thousand pupils, ten miles away from the original school, can hardly be called an 'extension'.
"It’s quite obviously a new selective school. These illicit 'satellite' grammar schools are a clear breach of current law, and we will certainly consider a judicial review to challenge any such plans. The government should not support backdoor routes to building new grammar schools, it should respect our current law."