Could Sevenoaks ease our school places crisis?
PARENTS in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge are being urged to back plans for a new school in Sevenoaks which could alleviate the pressure in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
Frustrated parents in Sevenoaks said opening a grammar school in their town would free-up school places here, while also easing congestion.
Nearly 2,000 children leave Sevenoaks each day to go to school in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells because there is limited secondary education provision in their home town.
Mother-of-three Sarah Shilling, who is behind the Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaign, believed more places for local children would be created at competitive schools such as Judd in Tonbridge.
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She said: "If they support us now, they are going to benefit in the long-run because there will be more grammar school places available for everyone."
Mrs Shilling, of Chipstead Park, said she and other parents were fed-up of their children having to travel each day on busy public transport to get to school.
The group has so far collected more than 2,400 signatures from other parents and residents ahead of Kent County Council discussing the idea of a new school on March 29.
Similarly, father-of-two Ian Whittaker, of Spring Lane in Bidborough, was frustrated by "out-of-area" children taking valuable places at schools here.
He said: "It's a perfect storm of children from out of area and out of county wanting the places, a lack of capacity, a growing population and a high number of private schoolchildren taking places.
"A grammar school in Sevenoaks provides the perfect solution to this problem by adding more capacity."
He was concerned that 37 per cent of children offered a place at The Skinners' School in Tunbridge Wells last year were from private primary schools, which offer 11-plus exam coaching.
More than 800 schoolchildren commute from Sevenoaks to Tunbridge Wells each day, with more than 1,100 more making the journey to Tonbridge.
Amanda Manuel, chairman of the Sevenoaks Action for Community Education group, said the provision of education in her town was "appalling".
The mother-of-two, from Wickenden Road, added: "We have one secondary school, but Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells have six each and we have the same number of children."
The Knole Academy, which opened in Sevenoaks in 2010, had 240 places for primary school-leavers last year – enough for fewer than half the number of children moving up to secondary school in Sevenoaks each year.
To sign the petition, visit www. sevenoaksgrammarschoolcampaign. blogspot.com