Published: 00:01, 08 April 2016
A defunct secondary school which closed due to falling numbers could be resurrected as early as 2019.
Education chiefs have disclosed that the Chaucer Technology site in Canterbury is their preferred option for a new secondary serving the city as the population swells.
Chaucer pupils left classes for the final time in June last year following Kent County Council’s decision to shut the school as it was “no longer viable”.
The closure is already putting strain on other secondaries in the district to absorb additional pupils.
KCC now says it favours two new free schools – a form of academy funded by government but free from local authority control – one in Canterbury, one in Thanet.
“The county council’s preference is for any free school to be established on the site of the previous Chaucer Technology School as this would help to meet future demand arising from the large housing developments planned for Canterbury”
A county council spokesman said: “At a recent meeting between KCC, the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency – with potential free school sponsors – it was agreed to apply for a new secondary free school in Canterbury and in Thanet, where new provision is required from 2019-20 onwards.”
Canterbury’s Local Plan – the city council’s blueprint for future development – forecasts a further 16,000 homes for the district by 2031.
More than 4,000 homes are earmarked for the south Canterbury area close to the Chaucer site.
According to the county council, the former Chaucer would therefore be the ideal spot for a new school for 2019.
The spokesman said: “The county council’s preference is for any free school to be established on the site of the previous Chaucer Technology School as this would help to meet future demand arising from the large housing developments planned for Canterbury.”
Figures reveal increasing pressure on some remaining secondaries to take in the district’s youngsters.
Each has an annual Published Admission Number (PAN) – the minimum number of new pupils it must accommodate in that year.
In 2013, before the Chaucer was closed, all Canterbury’s non-selective schools were under-subscribed in terms of pupils putting them as their first choice of secondary. Herne Bay High was the only non-selective in the district with first-choice pupils outnumbering its PAN.
But this year, figures show St Anselm’s and Canterbury Academy are both over-subscribed with first-choice pupils, as is Herne Bay High.
KCC says funding is being provided to allow both Canterbury Academy and Spires Academy to increase their intakes with an additional entry form this year.
But further places will also be needed to meet demand in the coastal towns, it adds.
The spokesman said: “Some additional school provision will be required on the coast to meet the demand from planned housing in Herne Bay and Whitstable, but this will depend on the timing of any new housing.
“This will be a mix of primary and some secondary school provision.”