One of my first duties as the newly re-elected MP, having sworn in on the day of the State Opening of Parliament, was to discuss the contents of the Queen’s Speech on BBC South East.
There are many great initiatives in the Queen’s Speech that will benefit our area, including extra investment in our transport, bills that champion equality, and a plan to protect our agricultural industry.
However, as many will have noted, there is one conspicuous exclusion: our election plan to scrap the current ban on building new grammar schools.
Having campaigned for so long for more grammar provision in Sevenoaks, I am disappointed that the current grammar school legislation will continue at least for the next two years. The constitution dictates that we must play the cards the electorate has dealt to us. So, with a minority Government, it is important that we put forward the best deal for Britain. That means amending slightly our manifesto commitments in the national interest to ensure they can be delivered in Parliament.
But rest assured, I remain committed to securing grammar provision here in Sevenoaks for boys, and we can do that without changing the law, by adding a boys’ annexe to the girls’ one at Wildernesse.
There is strong local demand for a boys’ grammar. Sevenoaks is the only area in Kent without a grammar school, and there is substantial pressure on local school places. Parents need more choice, and to travel back and forwards to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells wastes time and money.
Later this year, I will be welcoming a young constituent and his class from Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys to Parliament. I will be delighted to welcome the new class of girls from our Sevenoaks grammar annexe, too, after they start in September.