Home   Tunbridge Wells   News   Article

'Key breakthrough' in Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys expansion

An MP has described potential plans to expand a grammar school as a 'key breakthrough'.

Kent County Council has launched a consultation to expand Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys with a satellite site in Sevenoaks.

Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys. Credit Google Maps (20391828)
Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys. Credit Google Maps (20391828)

By opening an annexe at the Weald of Kent Grammar and Trinity School site, the selective boys' grammar hopes to increase its annual intake of pupils from 210 to 300.

The new annexe site, 15 miles away from the school's current home in St John's Road, would take in 90 pupils each year from September 2021.

The online consultation document states: "There is considerable building work still to be completed, and some of the existing accommodation needs to be finished with fittings and equipment."

However, the council is confident that any building work will be completed well before the expected opening date.

The area is already designated for educational provision, so would not require any further planning permission.

Michael Fallon (16419222)
Michael Fallon (16419222)

MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon has said 'this could be the key breakthrough' if given the go ahead.

He said: "Far too many boys from the Sevenoaks area have to travel back and forwards to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, at a huge cost in both time and money.

"If it was right to have the girls’ annexe, then it must be right to provide for boys too.

"Grammar schools should be allowed to expand like any other school.”

Weald of Kent Grammar School set up a satellite site in the town thanks to council approval despite concerns it was illegal.

Weald of Kent Grammar School, Tudeley Lane, Tonbridge. General view and sign. Picture Matthew Walker (20390591)
Weald of Kent Grammar School, Tudeley Lane, Tonbridge. General view and sign. Picture Matthew Walker (20390591)

Building work began on the annexe in the grounds of Trinity School, Seal Hollow Road, in 2016 and the extension accepted its first 120 pupils in 2017.

The plans will also see the existing school undergo improvements to ensure the same standards of facilities to all pupils.

Extra curricular activities and the house system will be shared across the sites and teachers will be expected to travel across the two, where appropriate.

The curriculum will remain the same in both parts of the school but students will be taught separately.

For each of the first five years following the opening of the satellite, the school’s revenue budget will increase by £423,500 every year from the following April, to reflect the additional 90 pupils per year.

Weald of Kent's Sevenoaks annexe shares a site with Trinity School in Seal Hollow Road (20391241)
Weald of Kent's Sevenoaks annexe shares a site with Trinity School in Seal Hollow Road (20391241)

This is because school budgets are set on a financial year which runs from April to March.

Since 1998 it has been illegal to open up a new grammar school but opening up a second site is seen only as an expansion.

All eligible boys in the town, who wish to attend a grammar school, must travel outside of Sevenoaks district to attend one.

Keith Abbott, Kent County Council's Director of Education, Planning and Access, said: “Kent County Council began a formal consultation into the possible expansion of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys on Monday, October 28 and further information is now available on the website.

"When accommodation was built for the Weald of Kent Grammar School and Trinity School at the Wildernesse site in Sevenoaks, additional accommodation was provided for a boys’ satellite expansion.

Weald of Kent Grammar School came under fire after fresh claims it's acting illegally earlier this year.

"However, some additional building work will be required along with internal works."

Despite this campaign group, Comprehensive Future, feels very differently about the proposal.

Dr Nuala Burgess, Chair of Comprehensive Future, said:“We know that the Sevenoaks satellite is operating as a new selective school and we are genuinely concerned that Tunbridge Wells boys grammar will pull the same trick with its ‘satellite’. The fact a grammar school can build a second school building, with barely more than a shared uniform in common, means that we could see many new selective schools springing up all around the country. Any grammar school could clone another school forty miles away simply by calling the new building a ‘satellite’ of the main school.

“It seems extraordinary that Kent County Council is still wedded to an outdated and socially unjust education system from which only a tiny minority stand to benefit. Just two weeks ago, more than eight thousand Kent children, who sat the Kent test, were told they had ‘failed’. The Kent test is a waste of time and money, but far worse is its devastating effect on those children and their future confidence in education.

“Sevenoaks residents who support this plan for a new boy’s grammar school have been misled by Kent County Council who promote the idea that an 11-plus test is a necessary part of secondary education.

"It is a bitter irony that in spite of its grammar schools, Kent has below average GCSE results with a progress score of -0.11. With these kind of results, you have to wonder why Kent County Council insists on a selective education system for the people of Kent."

The consultation closes at midday on December 6. You can comment by clicking here.

There will be a drop in session held at the Tunbridge Wells site on November 12, from 6.30pm to 8.00pm.

Read more: all the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

Read more: all the latest news from Sevenoaks

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More