AS a parent of twins (boy and girl) residing in Hillborough, Herne Bay, I wish to add my support to the relocation of Barton Court Grammar School to Herne Bay. Both my children attend grammar schools — Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar in Canterbury and Chatham and Clarendon Federation Grammar in Ramsgate. Logistically, having the children attending schools in different towns proved difficult in the formative years. Both children leave home at 7.15am (luckily getting a lift to Herne Bay, or an earlier start would be required) and returning home at around 5pm to 5.15pm on a normal school day. As you will appreciate, a long day, especially for those in Year 7, where a short walk to school was the norm only a few months earlier!
Since moving to Beltinge we have seen the Herne Bay region grow considerably. Whitstable has also seen dramatic growth over this same period. The Local Plan would suggest that up to another 4,000 homes could be constructed over the coming years. Speaking from experience, these new developments seem to attract young families, where the children will attend local primary schools. However, the options for attending local secondary schools are limited, especially for those living outside the Herne Bay High School catchment area, and that doesn’t extend to Hillborough. Options for grammar schools are even more limited. The options for Herne Bay and Whitstable children are as follows: Barton Court in Canterbury, The Langton schools in Canterbury, Chatham & Clarendon Fed in Ramsgate, and The Queen Elizabeth in Faversham. Canterbury schools can be reached by allotted buses from Herne Bay and Whitstable, but both the Ramsgate and Faversham schools need the use of a combination of buses, trains and walking.
There are 133 children in the CT6 postal area who get a train to Ramsgate each day. With a growing population and another influx of new developments, this will only increase. Why should it be that CT6 and CT5 pupils have to make all the travel arrangements and have much longer days? Surely if there is an opportunity for a grammar school to be built on the north coast, then all due consideration should be given? I appreciate that it will not be an additional school and it will mean some pupils from the current Barton Court school having to travel north, should they chose to relocate from Canterbury to Herne Bay. However, there are a number of children in the north CT post codes who will probably find travelling away from the city an easier and quicker journey than joining the daily queues getting to school. Barton Court will have the opportunity to build a bigger and better school, with facilities that children need in this fast-moving world. Other benefits to Kent County Council include a reduction in funding of travel fares.
Redefining all grammar school demographics can also take place, whereby the choice for parents will be fairly easy, unlike currently, where parents have to attend a number of schools to give preferences, which even then are not guaranteed when their child passes the 11-plus tests. Take away this postcode lottery and make it straightforward for both pupils and parents by having schools fairly distributed. I am not fighting for a grammar school for my children, by the time the new Barton School is built, they will be at university. I am fighting for the benefit of Herne Bay and Whitstable and the next generation of grammar school children, who deserve to be given an equal opportunity as those living in other towns. It is time for “sleepy” Herne Bay to wake up and fight for equal opportunities. Anyone interested should attend the next meeting at Seasalter Christian Centre, Faversham Road, Whitstable, on Friday, February 7 from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.
Herne Bay Times, January 30th 2014