The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan
13 May 2016
Dear Nicky Morgan,
Following the announcement that the Weald of Kent grammar school will be opening an annexe in Sevenoaks, I’m delighted about the additional choice this will provide to Sevenoaks parents who can afford the tutoring needed to pass the entry test. Obviously it’ll be better when they start admitting boys but it’s a start. The thing is though, Kent already has loads of grammar schools. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (2013) say 28.4% of Kent’s school places are in selective schools and, for those than can afford it, public transport means you don’t even need to live in a grammar school town.
My concern is Devon where only 1.7% of the state funded places are grammar schools. There are a huge number of Tory voters who are currently forced to send their children to a school where they’re obliged to mix in with the lower classes. I think the way you’ve side-stepped legislation banning the creation of new grammar schools in Kent should be extended to provide desperately needed selective places in Devon which right now provides virtually the same opportunities across all social status groups. It’s almost socialism!
My proposal is that the Sevenoaks annex opens an annex in Redhill, then Redhill opens an annex in Leatherhead, then Leatherhead opens an annex in Guildford, then Guildford opens an annex in Farnham, then Farnham opens an annex in Basingstoke, then Basingstoke opens an annex in Andover, then Andover opens an annex in Salisbury, then Salisbury opens an annex in Shaftesbury, then Shaftesbury opens an annex in Yeovil then Yeovil opens an annex in Taunton then Taunton opens an annex in Wellington then Wellington opens an annex in Tiverton.
Having established Tiverton as a beachhead the rest of the county can be annexed with two main incursions of serial annexations, one pushing to the south through Exeter, Newton Abbot, Torbay, Totnes, Plymouth and Tavistock and the other taking a more northerly route incorporating Crediton, Oakhampton, Ashwater, Woolfardisworth (just because it’s got a funny sounding name) Bideford and Barnstable. Other than the national parks, which are mainly inhabited by sheep, this should pretty much cover the county.
The lack of an upper tier of state funded education facilities in Devon is an absolute disgrace when compared to other parts of the country and I would be very grateful if your department gave serious consideration to this or other ways to redress the current imbalance.
Cribb J et al, 2013, Entry into Grammar Schools in England, The Institute for Fiscal Studies http://www.ifs.org.uk/docs/Grammar_Schools2013.pdf.