Saturday, 17 March 2012

How Strong is the Community Spirit?

A copy of our letter this week in the Sevenoaks Chronicle:

I have heard it said that Sevenoaks has a strong community spirit.  Right now could be the greatest test of this assertion.  Once again significant numbers of local children have been disappointed with secondary school offers; being offered a non-selective that wasn’t on the application form or a school they’ve never heard of in Maidstone. 

This year however, something different has happened.  Knole Academy has undertaken to specifically cater for these students locally, by offering a grammar stream, a guarantee that they will be in the top streams at least until year 9.   So – this community has a choice.  It can continue to go on waiting lists and appeal for places at what will be increasingly over-crowded schools, some 9-12 miles away, or it can do something different.  I have heard of groups of 3 or 4 parents making pacts between themselves to accept the places offered at Knole.  Knole already has 11+ children in each year; what if 30 parents were prepared to make a public pact?  An entire form of grammar ability children, with such parental and peer support, working in partnership with the school would be a powerful force.  There is a lot at stake here for Knole.  Its reputation is on the line; established as an all ability school, with Sevenoaks School as a sponsor to cater for exactly this type of child – are they seriously going to allow this to fail? 

Many people discount Knole without having even stepped over the threshold.  I have heard from a wide range of people that Knole doesn’t offer triple science – a commonly held opinion that on investigation reveals itself to be untrue.  Knole won’t be the right option for all children, but perhaps for 25 – 30 of those in the nightmare situation right now, it could be. 

Can community spirit win through?

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