Schools from neighbouring boroughs are being invited to establish a £15m annexe in Croydon.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday, Croydon Council launched a selection process to establish the secondary school annexe at the Croydon Adult Learning and Training centre (CALAT), Sandown Road, South Norwood, opening the door to schools from Bromley and Sutton to build a base in Croydon.
Tory councillors Michael Neal, Ian Parker, Simon Hoar and cabinet member for children families and learning Tim Pollard all spoke strongly in favour of grammar school education though Coun Pollard stated the application process was open to any publicly maintained school.
Coun Pollard, who is grammar school educated, said: "Grammar schools have always offered a way out of poverty for children and families that are willing to work."
The move was attacked by Coun Kathy Bee who said the move would exclude local children.
She said: "If you look at grammar schools around the area none take more than three per cent of children who are on free school meals. What you are proposing is a school in South Norwood where more than 30 per cent of children are on free school meals."
The council has also stipulated applicants must be academies, within close proximity to the South Norwood site, and have GCSE and A-Level results that are above the national average.
Candidates from outside Croydon could include Wallington Grammar School and Wilson’s School in Sutton, academy Dunraven School in Lambeth or St Olave’s Grammar School in Bromley.
Coun Dudley Mead, a member of the court of governors at the Whitgift Foundation, said the charity would also be looking at the possibility of establishing an annexe to one of its three schools on the site.
He said: "This is a very serious opportunity."
Interested schools must submit an application by the end of July. Consultation will take place during the autumn with Cabinet expected to agree on a preferred bidder before the end of the year.