Sevenoaks site named for grammar school expansion

Pupils taking exams (generic)
Image caption Sevenoaks is current the only part of Kent without any grammar school provision

A site for the first expansion of grammar school provision in England for over 50 years has been identified by Kent County Council (KCC).

Two annexes to existing grammar schools in Kent will be set up on KCC land at the old Wildernesse School site in Sevenoaks.

The law forbids the opening of any new grammar schools, but changes made last year enable existing schools to expand.

Parents in Sevenoaks set up an online petition to campaign for the expansion.

More than 2,600 people signed, arguing the area was the only part of Kent without a grammar, meaning more than 1,100 pupils who passed the 11-plus had to travel for an hour to Tunbridge Wells.

The new "satellite schools" are expected to take in 120 pupils in a year. KCC initially said the annexes would be linked to existing grammar schools in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

Academic selection and grammar schools were abolished in most areas of England in the 1960s and 70s but some areas retained them - including Buckinghamshire, Kent and Trafford.

KCC's preferred site, in Seal Hollow Road, is currently used by Knole Academy, whose lease runs out in 2015.

A new £18.3m building is under construction for the academy.

"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," said KCC leader Paul Carter.

"The team has been working very hard to get this far.

"Our property team will be taking a close look at the site to assess its suitability for refurbishment or whether any rebuild will be required.

"We will be making a provisional allocation in the capital budget for this."

KCC said it would submit detailed proposals for the grammar school expansion to the government in the coming weeks.

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