A Sevenoaks grammar school would have no detrimental impact on The Knole Academy, the local non-selective secondary school. This is because a non-super selective Sevenoaks grammar school will not admit pupils who would otherwise have attended The Knole Academy. Instead, the grammar school will provide a local education to the 1,150 Sevenoaks area children who currently travel to grammar schools in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
A Sevenoaks grammar school would have a beneficial impact on The Knole Academy in at least two ways:-
Firstly, by the two schools working together at Sixth Form level to provide additional subject options to the pupils of both schools. The curriculums of both schools will differ markedly at Sixth Form level, with each school offering a significant number of subjects that the other school does not teach. For example, The Knole Academy does not teach ‘A’ Level Physics, a subject that a Sevenoaks grammar school would teach.
Secondly, by aiding The Knole Academy’s annual admissions planning process. At present, due to the shortage of grammar school places in West Kent, many Sevenoaks area children who pass the 11 plus exam are initially offered places at The Knole Academy. However, several months later, as an outcome of the appeals process, these children are often offered grammar schools places in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells or Dartford, and therefore they decline their places at The Knole Academy.
According to The Knole Academy head teacher, this causes significant problems for her school. This is because the school finds itself unable to plan for its new intake of pupils until a very late stage because it does not know the number of pupils to be admitted, and therefore how many teachers will need to be employed, how many classes will be required, and what the lessons timetable will be.
A non-super selective Sevenoaks grammar school would eliminate this problem for The Knole Academy by ensuring that there are adequate local grammar school places available, meaning that all local children who pass the 11 plus exam and choose a selective school would immediately be offered a grammar school place, and would never be offered a place at The Knole Academy. The Knole Academy would then know at an early stage the number of new pupils that it would be admitting, and it would therefore be able to plan with confidence the number of new teachers and classes required.
In these and other ways, a Sevenoaks grammar school would improve The Knole Academy, enabling it to make further progress in attracting back to the town the 59%* of Sevenoaks area state school pupils who currently choose to attend non-selective schools in other towns, despite the additional travel time and costs involved.
*Of the Sevenoaks area children who left state primary schools in 2010-11, 441 were offered places at secondary schools. Of those, 159 were offered places at grammar schools in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. Of the remaining 282 Sevenoaks area children, 117 (41%) applied for, and were offered places at, The Knole Academy, and 165 (59%) applied for, and were offered places at, state schools in nearby towns (69 at secondary faith schools and 96 at other secondary schools).