The only other school is a mixed comprehensive This has meant that until now, those who pass the 11-plus must travel to grammar schools outside the town.
This might be to Tonbridge, or Tunbridge Wells, or even to Folkestone, a 100-mile round trip that takes two hours each way on public transport.
They have long complained that because of the lack of local provision, more than 1,000 children from the town must take buses and trains every day to make journeys of an hour or more to schools elsewhere in the county.
And yet the opening of a grammar in Sevenoaks will have a significance far beyond the purely local, because it forces the controversial issue of selective education — an idea so hated by the Left — firmly back on the national political agenda.
In her gardens at Long Barn and Sissinghurst Castle, both in Kent, she achieved a degree of aesthetic coherence which consistently eluded her in her fiction, with its tendency to melodrama and tempestuously heightened emotions.
While her writing sought to imitate the human heart, in all its nuances and strangeness, in her gardening she captured a simpler, more straightforward love: the countrywoman’s love of the land and its husbandry, the artist’s love of form and colour.
Since it was swallowed up by a local girls’ school in 2010 to form a new academy elsewhere, the days when Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton du Beke — a former pupil known back then as Tony Beke — skipped through its corridors seem a very distant memory.‘Bringing back selection is the wrong solution to problems that still exist in our school system, most of which can still be addressed in all-ability schools with the right leadership, teaching, curriculum and commitment from central government.’Their fear is that what is happening in Kent could be just the start of an expansion of the grammar-school system and that Education Secretary Michael Gove is secretly keen to give this the green light.‘The areas that have retained selection top the league tables year after year, providing the standards that parents want, and opening opportunities for children from all backgrounds,’ Graham Brady, a Conservative MP and long-time supporter of grammars, told me.Cameron’s strategists calculated that by ditching an educational policy associated with Tory diehards, it would appeal to voters who had never voted Conservative before.It is not a modern vision, but as anyone who has read Vita’s gardening journalism will know, her thirsty relish for plants, for new discoveries and fresh introductions, would have imposed a degree of modernity on any garden she created.For Vita, writing and gardening arose from the same impulse, irresistible in both cases, an unstoppable urge.