On Friday, I was delighted to join parents and pupils to officially open our new grammar school, the Weald of Kent Grammar School Sevenoaks Annexe.
Thanks to all the hard work of the parents, campaigners, district and county councillors, and the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Sevenoaks has finally got the grammar it has been due for nearly a century.
So it’s about time.
Parents in my constituency needed more choice. With substantial pressure on local places causing unnecessary disappointment and stress, they wanted high-quality education to be accessible and affordable for their family.
Pupils in my constituency wanted more time. Travelling up to Dartford or Wilmington or down to Tonbridge or Tunbridge Wells every morning and evening is time-consuming. It never made sense that bright minds in Sevenoaks needed to travel miles outside my constituency in order to get the education that’s right for them.
Now the girls attending the new annexe will have more time in the day to pursue hobbies and sports, develop friendships in the local area, and be with their families.
History is being made. It all started in 2011 when a group of parents launched a campaign to get a grammar school to Sevenoaks. They delivered a petition that stunned Kent County Council by achieving thousands of signatures in a matter of days.
The law was stacked against us. But what the opening of the Weald of Kent Grammar School Sevenoaks Annexe demonstrates is the winning power of parents.
With sustained local and national media coverage over many years, we forced the issue onto the agenda and reignited the debate. My constituents now have a proper choice of good local schools. But our work is only half done. There is strong local demand for a boys’ grammar too. That’s the next campaign.