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Barton Court Grammar in Canterbury to open secondary on Chaucer school site

By Chris Pragnell

A city grammar has announced bold plans to open a new secondary on the neighbouring site of a defunct school.

Barton Court Grammar in Canterbury is to bid to open a co-educational free school with five forms per year at the former Chaucer School.

Its expansion plans follow recent news that it has also been appointed academy sponsor of a struggling secondary in the coastal town of Broadstairs.

Barton Court Grammar School
Barton Court Grammar School

In an announcement sent to parents, Barton Court says: “Why do we want to open a free school?

“There is considerable demographic pressure on secondary school places from 2017 onwards.

“A new five form entry secondary school will be needed for Canterbury and the local area by 2019.”

Chaucer School closed its doors for the final time in June last year due to dwindling numbers.

Within months education chiefs admitted the site was earmarked for a future school to cope with anticipated population growth.

Canterbury City Council’s local plan – its blueprint for future development in the district – has identified sites to accommodate 16,000 new homes across Canterbury, Herne Bay, and Whitstable.

By far the largest site is south Canterbury, which is within the catchment area of Barton Court and the former Chaucer and is set aside for 4,000 new homes.

The former Chaucer school
The former Chaucer school

A developer has already submitted an outline planning application to deliver the homes, and says its scheme would accommodate more than 9,000 people.

Barton Court, rating outstanding by Ofsted, recently celebrated confirmation that funding was available to begin an ambitious overhaul of its Longport premises.

School bosses have long claimed the site and its buildings were no longer up to standard.

Work is due to begin on a reconfigured layout which will involve construction of a new hall, canteen, classrooms and toilets.

Barton Court Academy Trust has also been appointed sponsor or Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs.

Dr Bill Speed, chair of governors at Barton Court, said: “The former Chaucer School is adjacent to Barton Court and we feel this offers an exciting opportunity to open a new provision which from day one will work seamlessly with an outstanding school to ensure its success and popularity.

“We will offer a range of opportunities across the sites, such as a Gifted and Talented programme and a ‘mentoring and buddy scheme’ of pupils from our free school by Barton Court students, including our sixth formers.”

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