The Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaign has featured extensively in the national and local media, and many well known commentators have expressed their views:
Michael Gove, Secretary Of State For Education
“Grammar schools are a beacon for the entire state education system.” Speech to “Friends Of Grammar Meeting” at House Of Commons on 17th April 2012.
Q: Some grammar schools are seeking to expand and there is talk of opening satellite schools. Would you welcome this?
A: “We have allowed all schools that wish to, and which are successful, to expand.
“The particular case that has come to people’s attention is in West Kent. In Kent, you have a significant increase in population overall. If you have population growth in an area where there is selective provision, then you should allow schools in that area to expand to take account of it.
“The number of children who are educated in grammar schools rose under the Labour Government because of population growth. And because of population growth, the number of children overall to be educated in every sort of school will rise. In a selective area, if provision needs to grow in order to take account of that, that’s absolutely fine.
“But it is not our intention to extend selection beyond those areas where it currently exists.”
Evidence provided to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education on 31st January 2012:-
Nick Gibb, Schools Minister
“Our change, to allow good schools to take more pupils, far from “entrenching advantage” will mean more pupils from deprived backgrounds have the opportunity to attend the best schools.”
Letter to The Guardian of 3rd April 2012
Paul Carter, Leader Of Kent County Council
“For decades, young people and parents in Sevenoaks have been marginalised by not having grammar provision in the town. It’s time we made a significant investment in the proportionate expansion of selective schools in West Kent. The existing grammar schools in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge are working at their physical capacity. Let’s get on with finding the right site to build the grammar school in Sevenoaks.”
Press Statement of 29th March 2012
“At the moment, there are a number young people that have passed the 11-plus with no current places in grammar schools in West Kent. This is the opportunity to deal with the under-provision of grammar school places by building a four-form entry school in Sevenoaks.”
Interview on BBC South East News of 26th March 2012
Mike Whiting, Kent County Council Cabinet Member For Education
“The debate marked a momentous moment in the county’s history, which will change the face of education provision in the future. I’d like to thank the organisers of the petition and everyone who signed it. It highlighted the power of people pulling together, united in one cause that they truly believe in.
“The creation of a grammar school annexe is a step in the right direction in helping to solve the problem of children travelling up to 25 miles to get to school. The council will press ahead and work up a full proposal to make this happen for the parents in Sevenoaks as soon as possible.
“The population rise is the driving factor. We have a growing population in West Kent. We need to invest in many more school places, and it’s right that we invest some of those in selective education.”
Press Statement of 29th March 2012
“We have rising populations in Kent. I have a duty as Cabinet Member in charge of Education in Kent to ensure that there are adequate places for the children of Kent, and to offer some parental choice for those children…And as the population grows, I need to ensure that there are grammar school places too, which is exactly what the parents of Sevenoaks are asking me to do.”
“We do live in a selective system and currently we have some 1100 or so (Sevenoaks area) children every morning…going to non-selective schools outside of the area. So introducing new (selective) provision in the area, which is the request of the parents here, (is) the thing we need to look at to see how many of those 1100 children we could cater for in new provision in the town. (This would) save the young lad you mentioned, and others, from hour and a half combined journeys per day, which is difficult for children.”
Interview on BBC Radio 4 “PM” programme on 26th January 2012
Department Of Education
“The over-riding objective of this Government’s reforms is to increase the supply of good school places so parents have real choice. That includes making it easier for good schools – grammar or otherwise – to increase their published admissions number. It is for Kent County Council, as the decision-maker for maintained schools in Kent, to decide how it fulfils its legal duty to provide sufficient school places in the county.”
DofE Statement of 29th March 2012
Michael Fallon, MP For Sevenoaks
“I am very pleased – it’s another step along the long road. What’s refreshing is that someone is listening to parents.”
Statement of 29th March 2012
“Kent has a grammar school system, but Sevenoaks is the only one of its districts without one. Pupils in my constituency have to travel north to the Wilmington or Dartford Grammars, or south to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. There is a huge cost in making over 1,000 pupils travel backward and forward each day, and a lot of lost time. And there’s a growing shortage of places. With at least 300 places going to children from outside the county, and an increasing birth rate, unless we take action now, Sevenoaks children face being allocated places as far away as Sittingbourne and Ashford.
“This isn’t an ideological issue. Kent has a duty to provide sufficient secondary school places, both at all-ability academies such as Knole Academy and at grammar schools. Parents have the right to choose. So far, over 1,500 parents have signed a petition calling for a new grammar in Sevenoaks: we should respect their views.
“We need to get on now with the practical work. Finding a suitable site, selecting a partner school in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, and earmarking the necessary funding. With the support of the council and local parents, I am optimistic that Sevenoaks may finally get the grammar school that we need.”
February 2012 edition of Vine Magazine.
Graham Brady, MP
“Department for Education figures show that every ethnic group performs better in selective systems than comprehensive ones, with results for black and Asian children more than 10% better in areas with grammar schools.
“At a time when the government is rightly extending choice through free schools and academies, it seems sensible to go further…We should allow communities to establish new academically selective schools if they want.
“Old arguments between left and right are irrelevant: what matters is what works. Given the proven effectiveness of modern selective systems in raising standards across the board, surely it is indefensible for politicians stuck in the past to deny opportunities to millions of people. We should make it our mission to open the best schools to everyone, not just those who can afford to pay.”
The Sunday Times, 2nd December 2012
Stephen Twigg, Shadow Education Minister
“The scale of the increase in the birth rate is so enormous that we have a crisis, particularly in areas like Kent.” BBC South East News, 19th April 2012.
Richard Parry, KCC Councillor for Sevenoaks West
“At this moment, we have the opportunity. The law has changed and we have the ability at long last to serve the people of Sevenoaks.”
Speech of 29th March 2012
Sarah Shilling, Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaigner
“This is great news for the children of Sevenoaks as they may finally get the local grammar school places that they so desperately need and deserve.”
Statement of 29th March 2012
Andrew Shilling, Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaigner
“Sevenoaks children who scored as high as 99% of the full mark on the 11 plus test were not offered grammar school places. These children are distraught, they think they have failed, but this is not true. They only missed out on a grammar school place because they have the misfortune to live in the only Kent town without a grammar school. These children studied hard; they succeeded; but they were let down by the system.
“The children of Sevenoaks have suffered this injustice for far too long. A community grammar school in Sevenoaks would ensure that all local children who pass the 11 plus test would receive the grammar school education they deserve. It is a local solution to a local issue. It is what parents want. It is the right thing for Sevenoaks. It is the right thing for Kent.”
Speech of 29th March 2012
The Sevenoaks Chronicle
“It seems strange that a wealthy and well-educated town such as Sevenoaks does not boast a grammar school. More than 1,000 children commute to Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells to attend classes. Those schools may set up satellite sites in Sevenoaks to reduce this ludicrous situation, which only clogs the roads and lessens youngsters’ opportunities to stay behind for after-school activities like sport.”
Editorial of 1st March 2012
“People from my sort of background needed Grammar schools to compete with children from privileged homes like Shirley Williams and Anthony Wedgwood Benn.”
Speech to the Conservative Party Conference, 14th October 1977
Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
“Parents – and not just in Sevenoaks – want more grammar schools, yet are continually told that this is not an option, as though what is being proposed is the revival of the Victorian workhouse. I attended a grammar in Kent in an era when it seemed that a true meritocracy had taken root in the country. For the first time, prime ministers (Wilson, Heath, Thatcher) had been to state schools, as had many captains of industry, academics, surgeons, judges, generals and barristers. No longer were these positions dominated by the products of the public schools; and yet they are once more. Just look at the top of politics.”
Article published on 27th March 2012
Hywel Williams, Daily Mail
“The new grammar school in Sevenoaks is a victory for democracy since it will exist as a result of the popular will. It is parents who want it to happen because they think there are not enough grammar schools in Kent – and in asserting their will they are the heirs to those men of Kent who went into battle over a thousand years ago.”
Article published on 10th January 2012
Minette Marrin, The Sunday Times
“The unswerving pursuit of equality in education can be ugly and is always counterproductive…Brighter children are used to improve the educational experience of less able children, holding them back unfairly and reducing their future educational chances – a nasty kind of equality.”
Article published on 8th April 2012
Toby Young, Daily Telegraph
“Bright children from deprived backgrounds are more likely to excel in grammar schools. A brilliant child born on a council estate is less likely to discover a cure for cancer if he or she attends the local community school than if he or she attends a grammar.
“For me, it comes down to the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit. If a parent on a modest income with an exceptionally able child wants to give that child the best possible start in life by sending him or her to a grammar, they should be allowed to do so”.
Article published on 20th January 2012.
Ross Clark, Daily Express
“For bright children from modest backgrounds, grammar schools are powerful engines of social mobility. I was lucky enough to go to a grammar school in Kent, which established such a reputation in physics that one year it accounted for a full 1% of all university physics undergraduates”.
Article published on 11th January 2012.
Eleanor Mills, Sunday Times
“We shouldn’t be complacent. To go to the Far East now is to experience a new kind of modernity where the people are hungry, energetic and enthusiastic. They believe in hard work. If we are to keep up we will have to raise our game, and that starts with education.
“If we’re going to keep pace with the East we need the healthy competition that throwing clever kids together in a grammar-style school breeds. Parents want them. They work. Why not muster some grassroots democracy, an e-petition say, to put grammars back on the educational agenda. What have we got to lose?”
Article published on 8th January 2012
Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
“Is there a small boy in 2012 living in a poor home who is going to grow up to be President of the Royal Society and a Nobel Laureate? Without a grammar school education to drive him on and make him take those difficult science A levels, there’s not a hope in hell”.
Article published on 18th January 2012.