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MP Helen Whately plea for two new schools in Maidstone at Kent Medical Campus

By Claire McWethy

MP Helen Whately is hopeful that two new schools for Maidstone will be among those announced by the government shortly.

The chancellor committed £320 million for 140 new free schools in the spring Budget, with the next wave to be revealed around Easter.

Mrs Whately has pressed schools minister Nick Gibbs put some of that money towards a new primary and a new special school for the County Town.

MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, Helen Whately with education minister Nick Gibb
MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, Helen Whately with education minister Nick Gibb

The Faversham and Mid Kent MP explained that primary schools in Maidstone are full, and children could miss out on suitable school places unless a new school is open by 2018.

It follows concerns that children with disabilities and special needs are having to make long journeys every day to get to school, as places are so scarce.

Helen has been assured that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) is making progress on meeting the need for new schools locally, including earmarking a potential site at the Kent Medical Campus on land next to Newnham Court shopping village.

Mrs Whately said: “Maidstone needs a new primary and a new special school ready for the start of the new school year in September 2018. At the moment, primary schools in the borough are full and some children are facing long journeys across town every day.

Kent Medical Campus will be built near Junction 7 of the M20
Kent Medical Campus will be built near Junction 7 of the M20

"I have been contacted by a family in Maidstone whose child has special needs and was offered a place at a school in Dover, as that was the nearest available. Life is tough enough for children with special needs, and their families, without having to make a long journey like that every day.

"Cllr Roger Gough and officers at Kent County Council have been working behind the scenes with the EFA to make sure the new schools are built in time - but as the months have gone by with plans still uncertain they have become understandably anxious, and asked for my help. So I have been pressing the EFA to commit to a timetable.

"I’m confident that the message has been heard. With a site already earmarked and a new wave of free schools due to be announced any minute, I’m hopeful that parents will get some peace of mind soon.”

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