Column – Grammar Opening is Half the Battle

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.

Michael Opens New Wound Centre

Michael has officially opened a new specialist wound centre at Sevenoaks Hospital.

The new centre, which has been operational since May, is staffed by advanced wound nurses supported by tissue viability specialist nurses.  The clinic means patients in Sevenoaks with a chronic, complex or surgical wound now have access to specialist care.

As part of his official duties, Michael was given a tour of the centre.  He was joined by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive, Paul Bentley, and Chairman, David Griffiths, as well as dozens of guests.

Michael spoke to some of the patients on his tour.  One patient, Monica Wain (90) from Sevenoaks said: ‘[The staff] really know what they are doing here and in two months they healed my wounds.  It’s marvellous.’

The clinic is piloting an innovative new wound-monitoring app, WoundMatrix, that supports clinicians to heal wounds and pressure ulcers faster in the centre, which Michael was keen to inspect.

He said: ‘This new centre is an important addition to our local health services because treating wounds requires specialist ongoing care.  Its unique state-of-the-art equipment helps keep Sevenoaks one step ahead in the services it provides.’

Michael Officially Opens The New Beacon Centre

Michael officially opened a new multi-purpose educational centre at The New Beacon preparatory school for boys on 26th May 2017.

He was invited to speak at the event by Headmaster Mike Piercy and was greeted by all the schoolboys and their parents outside the new Centre. Michael asked one of the boys from Reception to join him in cutting the ribbon and officially opening the new building.

Michael was then given a tour of the Centre, where the Headmaster revealed the results of an election poll he had taken with the schoolboys that put Michael and the Conservatives in the lead. This was followed by an hour-long Q&A session with the senior boys inside. Among many questions, the boys asked about Michael’s motivations to become an MP and his views on defence.

Michael said: ‘This is about you, the schoolboys, and the future generations. I’ve always supported this high-achieving prep-school and believe this new Centre will itself become a new beacon for other schools in our area to use.’

Michael Officially Opens Andrews Court

Michael recently officially opened Andrews Court, a new development of affordable rented apartments for the over 55s in Swanley.  New residents joined Moat representatives, local councillors and officers from Sevenoaks District Council for the celebrations.
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Michael addresses the staff and residents.
Delivered by Moat in partnership with Sevenoaks District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and developer Jenner, Andrews Court is a redevelopment of the old St Andrews Court. The scheme includes larger dwellings, which allow easier access for people who may have wheelchairs or walking frames,  incorporating aspects of Dementia-friendly design – such as different coloured doors and carpets on each floor.
Michael said: ‘What’s important here is partnership; with Sevenoaks District Council and the Government.  These things don’t just happen.  They happen when there is genuine partnership involved.  This redevelopment is vital for the community because it is affordable and designed to ensure residents have the dignity of independence.
The residents here want to be looked after later in life, but they also want to be able to look after themselves.  For all these reasons, I’m delighted to be here to open Andrews Court.  I look forward to more of these developments coming forward here in Sevenoaks.’