The leader of the county council has condoned the prime minister’s expansion of grammar schools which will add “enormous value” to Kent.

Kent County Council’s conservative leader Paul Carter believes the national curriculum fails students in comprehensive schools, blocking pupils with low academic ability to reach their full potential.

He waived away fears that a new set of grammar schools would leave poorer children behind.

Instead he has called for primary schools to focus on pupils with the potential to reach grammar school, irrespective of their backgrounds.

In order to qualify for the selective school, children aged 11 are tested on their verbal and non-verbal reasoning, called the 11-plus, to see if they can pick up enough marks to qualify for a grammar school.

However some critics see grammar schools as an incubator for inequality.

The chair of the government’s social mobility commission, Alan Milburn, slammed Theresa May’s plans a day after her plans emerged.

The former Labour cabinet minister argues that grammar schools favour kids from wealthy families where pupils from independent prep schools are four or five times more likely to pass the 11-plus than those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

At a tree-planting ceremony in Sevenoaks, Mr Carter spoke about the Weald of Kent Grammar School, which would provide a grammar education to pupils forced to travel at least eight miles for lessons.

He said: "I'm a great believer that grammar schools add enormous value and we have a diverse choice of schools in Kent.

"My big issue is that we need a differentiated secondary education system that plays to the strengths of all young people.

“Grammar schools deliver at the high end of ability.

"But I still feel nationally the prescriptive national curriculum in comprehensive schools doesn't allow those of the least academic ability to reach their full potential in a restricted curriculum."

The Tonbridge-based Weald of Kent Grammar School, which will open next September, makes it the first new grammar school in 50 years.

The battle to bring grammar school education to Sevenoaks began in March 2012 following a petition launched by parents in the district - the only one in Kent which did not offer a selective secondary education option.

A prolonged legal battle ensued and campaigning parents finally claimed success in November 2015 when the then education secretary, Nicky Morgan, gave approval to the satellite school.

Labour passed laws in 1998 banning the creation of new grammars but the Weald of Kent's plan was approved because existing schools are allowed to expand if there is sufficient demand.

Maureen Johnson, headteacher at Weald of Kent Grammar School, said: "It's about us being able to expand what we are doing for more students.

"We currently offer education to a whole spectrum of students at lots of different starting points, and we are continuing to look at that."