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Grammar school on Whitstable and Herne Bay coast still on cards despite funding setback

A head teacher and MP are refusing to give up hope of building a grammar school site on the coast – despite failing to secure funding.

Barton Court in Canterbury and Queen Elizabeth’s (QEGS) in Faversham launched bids last year to open a satellite serving children from Herne Bayand Whitstable.

Barton Court Grammar School executive head teacher Kirstin Cardus
Barton Court Grammar School executive head teacher Kirstin Cardus

A plot along the bends in between the towns was understood to be the favoured choice for the annex.

But the schools’ plans are now in limbo as their competing applications for the cash needed to bankroll the scheme were snubbed by the Department for Education.

Barton Court executive head teacher Kirstin Cardus said: “Until money is available to bid for again, the project is on hold.

“Barton Court remains very interested in this project and if the funding was made available again with criteria that allow for satellites to grammar schools then we most certainly would be very interested in submitting a bid again.”

In October 2017, figures showed Barton Court had 167 pupils from Whitstable and 226 from Herne Bay - accounting for 43% of its roll.

Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale
Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale

This compared to almost 30% at QEGSs, which had 272 pupils from Whitstable and 14 from Herne Bay.

A satellite on the coast would allow pupils to use facilities closer to home, as well as in Canterbury or Faversham.

The plans were bolstered last year when Kent County Council revealed such a move was its “preferred option” to provide the 150 more selective places across the district.

Despite insisting he would still be interested in pursuing the scheme, QEQGS head teacher David Anderson admits he now “cannot see, at this stage, how it is viable”.

“Just a fraction of the Satellite School Expansion Fund was granted when the results were announced,” he explained.

Anti-grammar school campaigner Joanne Bartley
Anti-grammar school campaigner Joanne Bartley

“Therefore, we appear to be at a dead end in terms of funding through this route and the project is looking more and more unlikely.”

A long-time supporter of the plans, Herne Bay MP Sir Roger Gale says he remains “absolutely wedded” to the idea of building the facility.

“It’s all gone quiet because at the moment the secretary of state isn’t particularly enthusiastic about satellite grammars,” he added.

“There’ll be a change of secretary of state – as there always is – and when it changes, I shall have another go.”

“I’m going to pick my time. There’s no point in bothering a busy man and getting a negative answer; I’m going to wait until I’ll get a positive answer.”

However, anti-grammar school activist Joanne Bartley is calling on education bosses to give up on plans to build the annex.

The campaigner said: “They should focus on local schools.

“Parents are voting with their feet by going to high schools, rather than grammars – both Herne Bay High and The Whitstable School were oversubscribed this year.

"It would be a shame to wreck those schools’ efforts by building a grammar.”

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Herne Bay

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

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