Site of Kent's first new grammar school in decades revealed
Kent's newest grammar
school will be built in Sevenoaks
by political editor Paul Francis
The site of the country's first "new" grammar school in
decades will be a former west Kent secondary school that closed two
Kent County Council has said it plans to use the site of the
former Wildernesse School, in Sevenoaks, for a grammar school
However, the project has been delayed by slower than expected
progress on finding a sponsor to formally support the school, which
is hoped will cater for several hundred children who currently
travel outside the area to attend other selective schools.
The delays in confirming which existing grammar schools will run
the annexe means the planned opening will now be 2015.
Talks are ongoing with would-be sponsor
schools, which are a vital part of the scheme as legislation
currently bans the creation of entirely new grammar schools.
Expansion is only permitted where there is a proven case that
more places are needed because of population growth.
And the timing of the announcement has triggered a political row
with opposition Liberal Democrats saying the authority has been
However, County Hall Conservatives hailed the announcement as
The ruling administration is known to be keen to firm up its
plan ahead of May's county council election, believing it will play
well with voters if it can be seen to be backing more selective
Cllr Mike Whiting, Conservative cabinet member for education
pictured left, said detailed proposals for the grammar annexe for
both boys and girls would be submitted to the government in the
next few weeks.
"This is a welcome step forward in providing the local grammar
that people in Sevenoaks have said they want for their
"It is clear to me selective schools are something many parents
in Sevenoaks, and across the country for that matter, are
relying on Conservative administrations like Kent to champion and
provide, and we will do all we can to deliver for them."
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Trudy Dean said she was concerned
county councillors had not been involved in any debate about the
chosen site, which is currently being used by the Knole
"I have not seen any reports about this and none have come to
any committee," she said.
Campaigners who led the call for more grammar places in
Lead petitioner Andrew Shilling said: "Local parents have always
believed the Wildernesse site is the perfect and natural home for
the proposed new satellite grammar schools, and will therefore be
very pleased that KCC recognises this."
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