09/01/2012 11:45 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

First New Grammar School For 50 Years Could Be Set To Open

Grammar school PA

A petition campaigning for a new school in Kent could result in Britain's first new grammar school for 50 years.

Kent Council wants to set up the school to meet parents' demands for more selective places in the Sevenoaks area.

The Tory-run council could form a new school as changes to the education system introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove allow existing selective schools to set up satellite sites if there is sufficient demand in the local area.

Sevenoaks does not currently have its own grammar school, although as a county, Kent retains a state selective system. Children who pass the 11-plus in Sevenoaks currently have to attend schools in either Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Folkestone, which is 50 miles away.

Around 1,3000 signatures have been collected on the petition which was started by parents. One of the campaigners, mum Caroline Watson, told the Daily Mail of her frustrations that children could pass their 11-plus but not have a local grammar to go to: "It's ludicrous you have to put your child through the tests with no guarantee of a place and even then if they get one, they have to travel 12 or 15 miles every day."

She explained that her 11-year-old son Patrick has to travel 10 miles to Tunbridge Wells Grammar School. "It is a wonderful school, but he has been taken away from his friendship groups and has to travel nearly an hour each way by bus," she said, adding that she hopes by the time her daughter Emily is 11, there will be a local grammar she can walk to.

Kent's education spokesman, Councillor Mike Whiting, said he would be meeting the head teachers of the county's selective schools this week to see if any would be willing to form a satellite school to cope with the extra demand.

Opponents of selective education slammed the plans with Michael Pyke, of the Campaign for State Education, saying: "Parents in Sevenoaks should be campaigning for an end to selection so their children can go to a local school. The ones signing the petition are the ones who think their children will benefit by getting grammar places. What about the ones who don't?"

What do you think?
Should there be more grammar school places across the country?
Or do you not agree with selective education?