I MUST apologise for a mistake in my last letter (“A grammar school brings us no benefits”, June 4) Writing quickly and late at night I inadvertently put “secondary” when I meant “selective”. The first sentence of the second paragraph should have read “There are not 2,000 selective/grammar school children travelling every day from the coastal towns into Canterbury” which was the implication in Mr Coombes’ rather garbled letter. In fact, the combination of my mistake and the simultaneously published figures for admissions have highlighted just how small a minority of Herne Bay children would benefit from Barton Court’s proposal and how much we need another wide-ability school in the town. At present about 450 children (15 classes) leave the town’s primary schools. About 250 of these are admitted to the High School, in eight oversize classes. Between 60 and 90 (two to three classes) go on to grammar schools. That leaves between 110 and 140 (four to five classes) travelling to non-selective schools in Sturry, Canterbury, Whitstable, Birchington, Faversham, etc. In 2017 three additional classes will start in our infant schools. When they leave they will add about twenty grammar school pupils (less than one class) and seventy non-selective children (more than two classes) to those numbers. And that is before all the children from the new housing!
Because of the proportions involved, the number of non-selective children will always rise faster than the number of selective ones. For every ten additional grammar-assessed children there will be 30-40 non-seiective pupils — a complete classful. As more houses are built across the district tile number of spare non-selective places available for Herne Bay children will decrease. How far will 200 or more of our children then have to travel to school?
Unfortunately we face a triple whammy. Central government has imposed house-building numbers on local councils. It has changed planning law to make it virtually impossible for councils to refuse these developments. It has removed most of the funding previously given to councils to provide the infrastructure needed to support the extra residents and expects them to use the money raised by the Section 106 agreements to provide what is needed. This money is not nearly enough to pay for everything. I would hope that at least some developers would be aware of the impact their housing estates will have on communities and would emulate some of the builders in earlier centuries by using part of their profits to offer genuine help to those communities. Locally we can already see one such response where the speculative developer of land at Chestfield has listened to the concerns of local people and recently announced that the suggested hotel and health centre will be replaced by a much needed primary school. We need a similar gesture by those intending to buld hundreds ot houses in Herne Bay.
Mrs J Eburne,
Herne Bay Times, July 2nd 2014