School in Herne Bay set to close over lack of pupils
Philip Howard Catholic Primary School is set to close in the
by Chris Price
A primary school set to close in July would “need a
miracle” to remain open, its chair of governors has said.
Parents of pupils at St Philip Howard Catholic Primary School
were sent letters this week warning of the impending closure, which
has been blamed on a lack of funding and low pupil numbers.
Just 90 children attend the school, with only five more expected
to join up in September.
governors Mark Nash, right, who has three children at the
school, said: “It is gutting, especially given the fact the school
has turned a corner in the last six months.
“A lot of people seem happy here but the simple fact is not
enough local parents have chosen to send their children here and in
today’s world, low numbers means a lack of finance.
“It is a very small school and as a consequence it has a very
close-knit feel. A lot of parents send their children here on that
basis. It has a community family feel.
“It is going to be a massive loss to Herne Bay and Catholic
education, as well as the parents and children.”
The school has a history of financial difficulties because of
its size and is in need of repair works.
Funding for this was due to be provided by a Private Finance
Initiative but the school needed to be filled to capacity to pay it
Letters were sent home on Tuesday explaining a consultation
process will be launched on March 11 about the school’s future.
It will gather the views of MP Sir Roger Gale, local authorities
and the diocese and will allow parents and children to have their
Mr Nash added: “It is not a fait accompli but we have
investigated and the school is not sustainable with current pupil
numbers. We need a miracle.”
"It appears there is no hope. Regrettably that is the way it is." – parish priest Father Mark White
meeting for all parents and carers will be held at the school on
Wednesday, March 13, at 7pm.
Staff have been told they have employment until August 31.
The loss of Catholic education will be a blow for the community,
according to parish priest Father Mark White.
Father White is also a school governor and has preached at Our
Lady of the Sacred Heart on Sea Street for four years.
He said: “It is dreadfully sad. The school is a very important
part of our parish life and there is great sadness at this loss for
the children, parents and staff.
“It will be the loss of the whole ethos of our school. The faith
and life that we try to lead and encourage is going to be
“Obviously the other schools in the area have great qualities
but this one has a special link to the church and losing that is
“It appears there is no hope. Regrettably that is the way it
St Philip Howard
is the smallest school in Herne Bay, which is one of the main
reasons parents say they have chosen to send their children
Some were angry that news of the closure was leaked before
letters were sent out, giving a few parents a headstart in finding
a new school.
Heidi Griggs, 33, right, has already found a place at
Reculver Primary School for her nine-year-old daughter Anya.
She said: “I am really heartbroken. I have done fundraising for
the school for 19 years. We are like one big family and it is
“My daughter starts at Reculver on Monday. I cannot wait until
July. She is going into Year 6 next year, which is really important
Donna Scott, 37, of Bognor Drive, has a nine-year-old son at the
school, Ciaran, and his elder sibling also went there.
She said: “I am devastated. We have been here before in 2004 and
2005 but it was a shock because I thought we were getting
Lenard Beard’s eight-year-old daughter Bethany has learning
difficulties and benefits from the small class sizes.
Mr Beard, 65, of Station Road, said: “The teachers here are
excellent. They get time to sit and really help her learn.
“In this area there is only Herne Bay Infants. I do not drive
and I do not want my daughter to go to school far away. It is
Pauline Mawema, 32, of Beltinge Road, said: “My son Kern has got
ADHD and they give him every bit of help he needs. He is very
“I am not very happy that certain parents were told before
others. Where is my child going to go? I don’t want him travelling
two and a half miles. There is a meeting about this in March but
that is not going to help my child get a school place.”
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