Last month, the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, announced that she would be allowing Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge to open an annexe site in Sevenoaks. Although there is a ban on new grammar schools - introduced in 1998 by Tony Blair’s Labour Government – existing grammar schools are allowed to expand. This was a test case because rather than expanding on its current site, Weald of Kent Grammar School wanted to expand by opening an annex in a neighbouring town from which it draws some of its pupils.
Although I wouldn’t want to see a return to the 11+ with all children going to either grammar schools or secondary moderns, I have long campaigned for one or two grammar schools in Croydon. Many Croydon parents sit their children for the grammar schools in neighbouring Bromley and Sutton (in the interests of transparency, my eldest son goes to Wallington Country Grammar School), so there is clearly demand for this kind of education. The Secretary of State’s decision opens up the possibility of one of those schools opening an annex in our borough.
I know from discussions I have had that some of them are interested in doing this. I will do everything I can to make it happen, working with my colleague Chris Philp the MP for Croydon South, and will keep you updated on progress.