The new Sevenoaks grammar school bypasses the law and is costing Kent taxpayers millions

Weald_of_Kent_Grammar_School,_Tudeley_Lane_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1234244The Weald of Kent grammar school opened its controversial satellite school in Sevenoaks this week. Legislation forbids new selective schools from opening but the Weald of Kent School has avoided legal repercussions by claiming that the two school buildings – one in Tonbridge, the other in Sevenoaks – are in fact a single grammar school.

Girls based in the Sevenoaks branch of the school will have to travel once a fortnight to the legally approved grammar school in Tonbridge, ten miles away. This condition is intended to prove that the annexe is a part of the original school.

Joanne Bartley, Chair of Kent Education Network said: “I think it is shocking that both the Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks and a vocal group in Sevenoaks sought a dubious way around the law instead of using our democratic process to try to change the law on new grammar schools. It is also wrong of Kent County Council to spend £19 million of council tax payers’ money on this project; one entirely based on a local pressure group with a petition and political motivation. There was no formal consultation with people outside Sevenoaks, yet many people in Kent believe the law should be upheld and do not support selective education.”

The Kent Education Network claims that the Weald of Kent school is likely to contain more pupils previously educated in independent schools than pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Department for Education statistics show that the Weald of Kent grammar school contains only five per cent disadvantaged pupils while, in Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, non-selective schools average 25 per cent disadvantaged pupils.

Joanne Bartley went on to say: “Theresa May had hoped to reverse the law banning new grammars but failed because the change would never have passed in the new Parliament after the election. Meanwhile, Kent County Council has ignored the spirit of the law and has effectively built a new grammar school in Sevenoaks.

“The existence of this new grammar annexe teaches children that it’s OK to bend the rules if you want something badly enough and need to get around an inconvenient law.”

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