A SOUTHEND headteacher believes the borough has sufficient grammar school provision amid reports that the first new grammar school in the UK for 50 years is set to open in Kent.

Dr Robin Bevan, head at Southend High School for Boys, said he believed the borough had a good balance of schools with four grammars and eight secondary schools.

As well as his school, the other grammars are Southend High School for Girls and the Westcliff High Schools for Boys and Girls.

He said a grammar education provided a route for pupils who were academically gifted, but may have struggled at other schools where not all the students were at the same level.

This was borne out by the high standards of attainment of grammar school pupils in exams.

He added: “I think in an area like Southend where we have got a large urban population it makes a huge amount of sense to make a variety of different secondary school educations available. I think the balance is about right, we have got four grammar schools and the vast majority of pupils for those grammar schools come from the local area.”

He said a number of grammar schools in the county, including his own, had expanded or were in the process of increasing in size, with the result that in three years time 1,500 more pupils will be taught at grammar schools in the county than five years ago.

His own school had increased its year seven capacity from 150 to 180 students, while he denied concerns raised by councillors in the borough that grammars were offering too many places to pupils from outside the area.

He added of the 360 pupils at his school, only 60 had come from “beyond the A130 and Canvey Island,” while all schools, whether grammar or otherwise, had a certain number of pupils from outside the catchment area.

“I think there are a lot of myths about pupils coming from miles away. We do have a small number that come from beyond the A130 and the far side of Canvey, but the vast majority of pupils who attend grammar schools come from the local area. I do think there has been a lot of talk and quite a bit of it has been ill-informed about the issue,” Dr Bevan added.

A national newspaper has reported that education secretary Nicky Morgan has given the green light to plans for a 450-pupil grammar school in Sevenoaks, Kent, after months of legal wrangling.

Labour passed laws in 1998 banning the creation of new grammars - which are selective state schools - but existing schools are allowed to expand if there is sufficient demand.

The Sevenoaks school is not covered by the ban because it is officially an annexe of Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge.

The Department for Education said the report was "speculation" but it is understood that a written ministerial statement on school expansion will be made in the Commons.

Campaigners in favour of more grammar schools have argued that scrapping the 11-plus test in most areas of the country has hampered social mobility for bright pupils from poor backgrounds.

London mayor Boris Johnson has described the decline of the grammar school system as a ''tragedy''.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said that "all good schools" should have the right to expand, including grammars, an assertion echoed by Mrs Morgan.