The town’s MP Sir Roger Gale explains why he thinks the school is a vital addition to the town:It is a nonsense that in a county such as Kent, in which children are still able to enjoy the socially mobilising benefits of selective education, a town the size of Herne Bay does not have a grammar school and that, as a result, hundreds of students have to be transported, daily, to Canterbury, to Thanet or to Faversham for their schooling.
At last, and for the first time during my thirty-one years as a Member of Parliament, there is the real prospect of locating a grammar school on the coastal strip and to serve not only the young people of Herne Bay but those qualifying from Chestfield, Tankerton and Whitstable also. The numbers stack up, numerically and,because of the proposed development of the former Herne Bay golf course, financially.
Canterbury’s highly successful Barton Court School is on a cramped and hard to develop site and that school’s head teacher, Kirstin Cardus has, with the backing of her governing body, courageously decided to seek to make the move to the coast.
Government policy militates against the creation of new grammar schools but does permit the re-location of existing establishments. We have, therefore, a once and once-only opportunity to offer a first- rate facility for our young people.
There are, of course, those who are opposed to such a move. For some reason that I have never grasped it is, apparently, further to transport children from Canterbury to Herne Bay than it is to take children, by bus or car, from Herne Bay to Canterbury! It is, certainly, the case, that if and when the planned move takes place, there will be a short period of disruption and an inevitable re-shuffling of some students between the two grammar schools remaining in Canterbury and a Barton Court that has moved to The Bay. And there are, of course, those who are simply opposed to selective education and who will therefore regard any strengthening of provision with hostility.
I believe, however, that we owe it to future generations of young people living on the coast to seize the chance offered by the developer, Mark Quinn, and to give our wholehearted and very public support to Kirstin Cardus in her determination to realise an opportunity that will not only give Herne Bay a new and purpose built second secondary school but will also afford the coastal towns and villages access to some excellent and much-needed sports facilities that will be available for use not only by the school but by the whole community.
It would be a tragedy if, while a very modest number of opponents voice their opinions, the view of an overwhelming but silent supporting majority of parents is allowed to go by default. I urge all of those who wish this project to succeed to stand up and to say so loudly. The city council must be left in no doubt as to where public opinion really lies.