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Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:00

Proposed Sevenoaks Grammar School Annexe: site announced - Free School hopes to share site

Kent County Council today announced that the proposed new Sevenoaks Grammar School Annexe now has a preferred site on the old Wildernesse School site in the town. Kent County Council reports that detailed proposals for the new grammar school provision will be submitted to government in the next few weeks. The site is owned by KCC, but the provision is not at present vacant, being  leased to the Knole Academy until 2015. Clearly Knole Academy is in no hurry to make the site vacant to a potential competitor school, and plans to "use its facilities more and more" whilst waiting for its own £18.3 million extension to be built. You will find much of the background this story here. Meanwhile,..........

the Christian Free School in Sevenoaks, due to open in September, has sent out a newsletter stating they were having discussions with KCC about the possibility of sharing the site. 

Submission of the detailed proposals to government is another step along what promises to be a drawn out process, as Kent attempts to create history by providing the first new grammar school provision in the country for many years, certainly thirty and possibly many more. As such the proposal will be closely watched by grammar school supporters round the country, as its approval would open the way for others to expand into new areas, and will no doubt be fiercely opposed by those who may feel threatened by the proposal, including probably Knole Academy itself. Another issue is the state of the Wildernesse School premises, and KCC has to decide whether to go for a rebuild, which would absorb a significant proportion of its schools capital budget, or else go for a refurbishment of the current buildings, which would hardly present the shining new  concept visualised. 

Meanwhile, I think it will be very difficult for KCC to make a detailed proposal without naming the sponsor grammar schools, so one may assume that these (I am guessing there will be two, one for the boys and one for the girls as was initially planned) are close to agreement on what must be proving a very difficult legal contract, as they combine to produce a single annexe, not two as currently reported by the BBC on its website. For the same reason, I think the BBC conclusion that there are no sponsors is erroneous. 

For there is no doubt that this proposal is a political imperative for Kent County Council, and it will be a major priority to pioneer what is effectively a new grammar school,  even if there is considerable opposition from some parties, probably involving legal challenges to the scheme.   

Last modified on Sunday, 16 March 2014 17:18

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