Kent County Council (“KCC”) has confirmed that the new Sevenoaks grammar school will be located at the old Wildernesse School site in Seal Hollow Road, Sevenoaks.
Andrew and Sarah Shilling are the parents who are leading the Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaign. Reacting to today’s announcement, Sarah Shilling said:
“This is great news, and a wonderful start to the New Year. Today’s announcement demonstrates that real and tangible progress is being made towards providing new grammar school places in Sevenoaks from September 2015.”
Andrew Shilling added:-
“The 2,600 Sevenoaks parents who signed our e-petition calling for KCC to establish a grammar school in the town will be delighted that their children will no longer need to travel for two hours every day to attend grammar schools in other towns. Local parents have always believed that the conveniently located Wildernesse site is the perfect and natural home for the proposed new grammar school, and will therefore be very pleased that KCC has recognised this. This is a phenomenal demonstration of people power – our e-petition lead directly to the Council passing a motion to provide new grammar school places in the town and, with today’s announcement, KCC has demonstrated its determination to deliver on its promise to the people of Sevenoaks.”
Mike Whiting, KCC Education Chief, said:
“Confirmation of our preferred site is an important step in the delivery of local grammar school provision for the people of Sevenoaks, in line with the mandate of the County Council motion passed last year. I am sure the people who petitioned the council and other parents will be delighted by this news, and be patient as we work with potential partners to finalise our detailed proposals for consultation. This is a welcome step forward in providing the local grammar education that people in Sevenoaks have said they want for their children.”
Paul Carter, KCC Leader, said:
“We said back in March 2012, that we were determined to provide young people in Sevenoaks with access to a local grammar school, within current legislation. The team has been working very hard to get this far and I expect there to be more welcome news soon. We believe the site, which will revert back to KCC in 2015 when the current lease with the Knole Academy runs out, perfectly fits our needs.”
Mary Boyle, principal of the Knole Academy, the Sevenoaks high school, said:
“Knole Academy uses a large amount of the Knole East (Wildernesse) site at the moment and as we grow, and whilst our new £18.3 million extension is being built, we will be using its facilities more and more.”
With its expected opening date of September 2015, the new grammar school will benefit Sevenoaks primary school pupils currently in Years 3 and 4, as these children will no longer suffer the daily two-hour commute to grammar schools in other towns.
The plan is that the Sevenoaks grammar school will be a community school that operates a fair, “tutor-proof”, and non-super selective, admissions policy that will admit children who pass the 11-plus exam (and not just the highest scorers) from Sevenoaks and the surrounding villages. Unfair admissions policies and a shortage of grammar school places are particular problems in Sevenoaks. The underlying reason is that there are currently too few grammar school places available to boys in West Kent. This problem will only be resolved when the Sevenoaks grammar school opens in September 2015.