I MUST take issue with Dr Klappa over several of his statements (Your Views, Moving school to Bay makes sense, February 6). If all points of view are taken very seriously why is anyone expressing opposition ridiculed or slapped down as we have seen both in the press and at the Herne Bay public meeting? Several people at that poorly attended meeting were against the proposal but were too intimidated to speak out when they saw the reaction to the one who did. Why are these meetings being held at 4.30pm, a time that is highly inconvenient for most people? Not everyone who finds the move “unpalatable” is a Canterbury parent. People throughout the district, including many with no connection to the school but with an interest in education, are concerned about the wider implications of such a move and about provision for all our children. Many believe that a school that caters for such a small minority of children (no more than 12 per cent) from such a wide area, a fact admitted by Dr Klappa, should be sited in the centre of that area where it is easily accessible from all parts.
The most vocal support in Herne Bay comes from members of the sports clubs, who will gain facilities on the site. They are worried that if the proposal does not go ahead they will lose that provision. Quinn Estates has repeatedly stated that the sports faculties will be provided regardless of what happens to the rest of the site. It has always been designated for sports and leisure use so, provided certain conditions are met about access, parking, etc, there are no grounds for refusal of that part of the plan. For the same reason they were the most vocal in their support of the original plan for a Tesco store, opposed by large numbers of the town’s residents.
Dr Klappa refers to the Kent Education Commissioning Plan. He omits the detail from that plan. It clearly states that there will be no shortage of secondary places of any type in Canterbury district before 2022 at the earliest. The first shortage of places will occur in the primary sector, possibly around 2017/18 depending on the amount of housebuilding. There is therefore no need for the school to rush to provide extra places so soon. It seems surprising that the school does not think it has enough room to expand on its current eight acre site when it is proposing to move to a site of only three acres. One thing the school fails to appreciate is the importance to parents and children of choice. The range we now enjoy in the district is envied by people in many other areas, not just in Kent. The fact that all the Canterbury grammar schools can fill with children who have placed them first choice indicates just how important families throughout the district consider it to have co-ed and single sex grammar places available to all. This choice will effectively be removed if Barton Court relocates as children will be expected to attend their nearest school.
MP Sir Roger Gale acknowledged this with his statement that the aim is for children to walk or cycle to school. What a wonderful aim! Sadly the reality is that many will be taken to school by car, particularly in bad weather, as we see at the high school. Dr Klappa repeats the claim made at the meeting that the school is listed amongst the top 100 state schools in the country. There are many such lists — to which one does he refer? I have seen some such lists which do not name any east Kent schools. There are others on which only the two Simon Langton schools are shown. We need far greater clarity on this and many other of the statements by Dr Klappa and the school.
Mrs J Eburne,
Herne Bay Times, February 6th 2014