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Grammar campaigners call school ‘clapped out’

Supporters claim Barton Court move would help pupils

CAMPAIGNERS slammed a grammar school rated as outstanding as “clapped out” and “past its sell-by date” at a public meeting. Supporters of Barton Court’s proposed move to Herne Bay said it would allow the school to expand and provide a vital opportunity for more children from the town to have a grammar school education. But parents whose children attend the school said it would be wrong to move it from it’s city centre location and a satellite school should be built instead. The meeting, on Monday evening, was organised by Herne Bay councillors who wanted the town’s support for the move to be recognised. Councillor Joe Howes was applauded as he said:

“Barton Court is a school past its sell-by date like many of the schools in Canterbury.”

Brand new

“What is being offered is a new school, new teaching facilities and the people of Herne Bay and Whitstable will benefit.”

Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale said it was not acceptable for so many children to face long journeys to get to a grammar school. He added:

“Barton Court is clapped out. It is a very difficult site to redevelop for a school and it is not possible to expand. Barton Court is going to have to move at some point if it is going to continue its standards of excellence. We have a one-off opportunity to have a modern school.”

Councillors said although turnout at the meeting was low, most people they had spoken to were in favour of the move. Cllr Howes, who chaired the independent appeals panel for Barton Court last year, said all the children who had passed the Kent Test and not been offered places were from Herne Bay. He added:

“The people of Herne Bay are disadvantaged and they have been for years. The admissions are by distance so kids from the Etham Valley are prioritised above kids from Herne Bay and that is not fair.”

But Brian Robinson, who has a son at Barton Court, said moving the school would have negative effects for many.

Problem

He said:

“I fully understand Herne Bay needs a grammar school. I wouldn’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is robbing Peter to pay Paul. You need a grammar school but please not at the expense of lots of families.”

His view were echoed by Paul Todd, from the Barton Court Parents Forum. Mr Todd said:

“What we want is fairness for the whole district, not just for Herne Bay and not just for Canterbury. I can’t fault the logic of having a grammar school in Herne Bay and it is important we work together as a community. A satellite is achievable.”

Governors at the school are examining the results of their public consultation alongside options for the current site — thought to include the possibility of using part of the Chaucer School site which will be largely empty from this summer. A final decision is due in October.

Herne Bay Times, June 4th 2014

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