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War of words over school move

Developer Mark Quinn, left, plans to buIld 570 new homes and a sports hub. This would also include relocating Barton Court Grammar School from Canterbury to the former Herne Bay Golf Club site, which was at the heart of a public meeting, held at the Salvation Army Hall on Monday
Developer Mark Quinn, left, plans to build 570 new homes and a sports hub. This would also include relocating Barton Court Grammar School from Canterbury to the former Herne Bay Golf Club site, which was at the heart of a public meeting, held at the Salvation Army Hall on Monday

Parents and councillors clashed in a war of words over the future of Barton Court at a fiery public meeting this week. The debate was organised by representatives from Herne Bay in a bid to boost support for the grammar school’s bid to move to the town from Canterbury. Developer Mark Quinn hopes to include the school in his plans to build houses and a sports hub on the former Herne Bay golf club site. But a panel of councillors was forced to address a number of fears about the relocation, with the topics of concern including transport, school catchment areas and urban expansion. Cllr Andrew Cook (Con) told the meeting at the Salvation Army Hall on Monday that there was cross-party support for moving the school to Herne Bay. He said:

“Today I spoke to a number of parents at Reculver School, and I’d say 99% were in favour of Barton Court coming over to Herne Bay. Parents have a lot of problems getting kids into the Canterbury catchment area, and also not being able to get into the catchment area for our own comprehensive school either.”

Opportunity

Herne Bay councillors, including cllr Joe Howes, right, who told the meeting a satellite school was unlikely given that the Government had recently rejected a similar plan in Sevenoaks
Herne Bay councillors, including cllr Joe Howes, right, who told the meeting a satellite school was unlikely given that the Government had recently rejected a similar plan in Sevenoaks

“Having a grammar school would definitely help us to regenerate the town. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, so we intend to grab it.”

Parents forum campaigner Paul Todd battled with Cllr Joe Howes (Con) over whether the move could deliver bigger class sizes and better education. Cllr Howes said:

“The school at the moment is not fit for purpose. In no way can it expand beyond four form entry. It means that the catchment area will just get smaller and smaller.”

Parents forum campaigner Paul Todd argued for a satellite school
Parents forum campaigner Paul Todd argued for a satellite school

Mr Todd replied:

“I think we should be working together as a community. We don’t need to be Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable all at each others throats. The original plan was for a satellite school. Why is this not achievable? It’s best to say that we want a satellite here, working together for everybody to make use of.”

His words were echoed by Brian Robinson, who added:

Brian Robinson pointed out that “only 45% of pupils come from the coastal areas”
Brian Robinson pointed out that “only 45% of pupils come from the coastal areas”

“I can understand completely why you want this in Herne Bay, but it seems here that we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Only 45% of pupils at the school are from the coastal towns, which means the others would have to trek from the south, east and west of Canterbury to a new school.”

But Cllr Howes said a satellite school was not a likely option given the government’s rejection of a similar approach in Sevenoaks.

Herne Bay Gazette, June 5th 2014

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