County council bosses are seeking funding to expand a secondary school as its head teacher reveals that once again it is oversubscribed.
Quinn Estates, the developer behind plans to build 93 homes on the former Herne Bay golf club site, has been asked to pay £232,500 towards providing extra places at Herne Bay High School.
Kent County Council has confirmed that it has started a feasibility study to identify how it would accommodate 30 more Year 7 pupils joining in 2023.
Last year, 274 children listed Herne Bay High as their first choice school – more than any other comprehensive or grammar across the district and Faversham.
Its head teacher, Jon Boyes, says the figure for September’s intake is already the highest it has ever been.
“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that we’re already massively oversubscribed,” he said.
“There are families in Herne Bay – when I say that I also mean across Reculver, Beltinge, Herne and Swalecliffe – who would like their child to come here, but can’t because we’re full. Instead, they’re being sent to the Spires Academy and The Whitstable School.
“The number of people who put us down as their first choice is higher than it’s ever been. There will be families who will be turned away, unfortunately.”
In 2017, Herne Bay High was the first preference for 303 parents and guardians, while its Published Admission Number (Pan) stood at 265.
Its Pan was increased from 258 after 299 children listed it as their first choice the year before.
As yet, it is not clear whether the expansion will involve building an extension or satellite.
But Mr Boyes believes construction of the latter will be best-suited to meet the increasing demand for places at the high school.
“There’s a need for more secondary school places on the coast,” he said. “I met with KCC about five weeks ago, and it knows there’s a need for more places.
“It may well be that the school will have to expand within its own grounds in order to meet the need in the short-term.
“The ideal answer is to have a nice piece of land on the golf course, which is still available I believe, to build another part of the school.”
Mr Boyes also fears that if Herne Bay High is not expanded, it will be unable to cope with the added demand for places many of the town’s developments will create.
The Local Plan, which was approved by Canterbury City Council in 2017, has earmarked a number of sites for a total of 3,000 homes to be built across the town.
“As the number of houses in this area increases, our catchment area will shrink,” Mr Boyes said.
“There will be more parents who will have to send their children into the city for non-selective, secondary education.
“My belief is this school ought to provide the education for any child who lives in Herne Bay, regardless of their ability. It’s got to be a school for local families.
“That could potentially be undermined as Herne Bay develops.”
KCC's cabinet member for children, young people and education, Roger Gough, says the expansion of the school would help match the increased demand for places.
He added: “KCC has put in a request for developer contributions towards the expansion of a secondary school in the area, as well as for a new primary school.
“We will be able to provide more details following the completion of the feasibility study and once the application for developer contributions has been determined.”
Once the feasibility study is completed, KCC will hold a public consultation into the expansion of the school.
The need for additional places is outlined in the current draft of the Kent Commissioning Plan 2019-2023, which will be considered by the county council’s cabinet committee later this month.