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MP backs grammar school expansion and coast move

Boys who pass the Kent Test may end up travelling to Dover or Ashford for their education unless Barton Court is allowed to expand, according to its head.

Head teacher Kirsten Cardus has told councillors that more boys than girls are meeting the grammar-school standard and, as Simon Langton Boys’ School has no room to expand, families could be forced to send their sons miles away. Apart from Barton Court, the only other grammar school in Canterbury is Simon Langton Girls’.

In a letter to city councillors to be discussed at a meeting on Monday evening, Ms Cardus said:

Barton Court’s possible move to the coast remains very much work in progress for the school. The school is also examining the feasibility and costings of expanding on its current site and the governing body will make its final decision by October 2014.

The school is also aware that the number of boys passing the Kent test is outweighing the number of girls. This is reflected in the ratio coming to BCGS in September which will be 93 boys and only 35 girls.

With no room to expand Langton Boys, more boys who are deemed grammar-suitable in future years will have to travel to Thanet, Swale, Dover or Ashford grammar schools unless BCGS can find a way to expand.

The school’s proposed move, from the city to the former golf course at Herne Bay, would allow an extra two forms per year to be provided, and if it stays in the city centre then there would be room for one extra form entry.

Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, has also pledged his support for the move, although he acknowledges it is “controversial” and some parents are “deeply opposed” to it. In a letter included with documents for the meeting, he said:

Barton Court is a school whose results have improved enormously under the dynamic leadership of Kirsten Cardus. From being near the bottom of the Kent grammar league it now excels. The facilities upgrade the school needs cannot be squeezed onto the current site. I feel that this is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity that deserves a full appraisal.

Members of Barton Court Parents’ Forum, a group of parents opposed to the proposals, are planning to speak at the meeting, which starts at 7pm at the Guildhall, Canterbury.

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