New figures disclosed by the minister show the extent to which grammars have been pushing the government to allow them to grow.
Shortly after becoming prime minister, Theresa May announced her intention to dramatically expand the number of selective schools in a bid to boost social mobility.
Previously, just one grammar school, Weald of Kent in Tonbridge, had been given approval to open an “annexe”. This facility will be on a separate site, nine miles away in Sevenoaks, and will accommodate 450 pupils .
The school was given the go-ahead to open on a new site by the then education secretary, Nicky Morgan, who argued that the Conservative manifesto provided a mandate for the expansion of “good schools”, including grammars.
May backed expansion in her constituency
Responding to a written question last week, Mr Gibb revealed that 17 grammars – 10 per cent of the total – had applied to the government to extend.
It is unclear exactly when in the past four years each application was made.
“The records that are held and maintained by the department indicate that since April 2012 there have been 17 grammar schools that have applied to extend their school,” Mr Gibb said.
“These figures relate to grammar schools that have converted to academy status. We are not able to verify the records for expansions at selective academies before 2012. Maintained grammar schools would apply to their local authority when seeking to expand and this data is not held by the department.”
Earlier this year, Ms May expressed support for a proposal by a grammar school in a neighbouring local authority to open an annexe in her constituency of Maidenhead.
But since moving into Number 10, Ms May has unveiled plans to allow more selective schools to open across the country. A consultation was launched in September and closes in December.