Now that grammar school places for girls have been secured in Sevenoaks, the next challenge for parents is to campaign for boys’ places in the town. It is therefore very welcome news that the town’s MP, Michael Fallon, has opened discussions with boys’ grammar schools in West Kent over them sponsoring a boys’ grammar annexe in Sevenoaks.
Mr Fallon said: “I’ve talked to them since the decision. I don’t think I should identify them but I’ve talked to a couple of them to ask whether their governors would start now to think about this, and there is interest there. Obviously, the boys’ schools are watching to see if one of them goes for it because it would certainly affect them all. There is interest there.
“We will still have, even after the Weald annexe is built, children wasting time and money travelling by train and bus down to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. One way or another, we need more places in Sevenoaks. It’s a ridiculous in a selective system to have a large district like Sevenoaks without a grammar school – it’s just odd. So the campaign goes on.”
There is very strong backing from Sevenoaks parents for boys’ grammar school places in the town as was demonstrated by the comments on the Sevenoaks Chronicle’s Facebook page in October following the Government’s approval of the girls’ annexe:
Natasha Wallis-Rogers: “Fantastic news Sevenoaks!! Well done!!”
Paula Porter: “It’s a boys grammar school that’s needed!”
Kathryn Drake: “Yes definitely the right decision. I am so glad I went to a grammar school. If the boys need one too then maybe time to petition the boys’ schools to follow suit.”
Jane Thomson: “Fantastic news and long overdue. Now need to sort one out for the boys!”
Liz Simmons: “Just need one for the other 50% now.”
Sophie Louise Dalton: “Think it’s a good thing but do agree it needs to be mixed.”
Simon Hooper: “Listen to the community – make it mixed, not single sex.”
Kirsty Brambley: “It needs to be a mixed grammar to provide a fair service to both sexes.”
It was also announced this week that North London based campaign group Comprehensive Future have abandoned their legal challenge to the girls’ grammar annexe in Sevenoaks. It appears that they were unable to find a single local parent willing to back them, and without any local support their judicial review would have failed.
On hearing the news, Michael Fallon said: “It would have been outrageous for politically motivated national campaigners to attempt to block the expansion of a successful school that is strongly backed by the people of Sevenoaks and Kent County Council.
“I welcome the news that the annexe can now start to be built, meaning that local parents will at last have the same choice of schools as elsewhere in Kent. We need more good school places in Kent in academies, grammars, and free schools. Any successful school should be allowed to expand, so it is wrong to discriminate against grammar schools.”
An announcement is also expected shortly from Kent County Council over the commencement of the building work. The builders Willmott Dixon are already on site constructing the adjacent Trinity School, and they have now demolished the old Wildernesse School building upon which the grammar building will be built.