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Marsh Academy over-subscribed for first time sends 'alarm bells ringing' for councillor

The Marsh Academy will be over-subscribed this September for the first time ever, sparking fears over a lack of school places.

Cllr Susie Govett, who represents New Romney on Shepway District Council, said parents were becoming “increasingly concerned” with the lack of secondary school places for those living on Romney Marsh.

Cllr Govett (Ukip) met with Marsh Academy head Shaun Simmons on Tuesday to discuss what lay ahead for the school and future pupils.

Cllr Susie Govett said "alarm bells are ringing". Picture: Andy Jones
Cllr Susie Govett said "alarm bells are ringing". Picture: Andy Jones

The school, in Station Road, New Romney, is over capacity before some planned housing schemes have even been built in the area and as some still await approval from the district council.

The Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent, is a new document that has been released this year and outlines capacity rises up until 2021. It shows that the district’s core strategy allows for up to 300 new homes in New Romney alone.

Cllr Govett said: “If we’re building the houses, we need to be prepared to serve the families which fill them.

“We are currently faced with the very real possibility that there will be more children on the Marsh than there are school places.

'The alarm bells are already starting to ring' - Cllr Govett

 “The alarm bells are already starting to ring, with the academy currently oversubscribed for the next academic year.

“These issues will only worsen, and Marsh families need reassurance that the education of their children will not be compromised, whether they choose the grammar route or the Marsh Academy.”

Cllr Govett also said that despite some Year 6 pupils passing the 11-plus test, which gains them a place at either the Folkestone School for Girls or the Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone, some have been denied places.

The Harvey Grammar School in Cheriton Road, Folkestone.
The Harvey Grammar School in Cheriton Road, Folkestone.

She said this was because of the distance criteria being applied, which means Marsh youngsters could be considered to live too far away for places. Affected families have the chance to appeal if their children do not get places at desired schools.

“This can’t be fair,” Cllr Govett added.

“The children take the Shepway Test as well as the Kent Test and they only need to pass one to be eligible for a place at a grammar.

“All Shepway children should be treated equally without preference for those who happen to live closer to Folkestone.”

Head teacher Shaun Simmons. Picture: Andy Jones
Head teacher Shaun Simmons. Picture: Andy Jones

Head teacher Shaun Simmons said it was the “rapidly improving reputation” of the academy that was raising demand.

He said: “Since it opened in 2007, the academy has had a capacity of 180 students in each year group.

“Up to this point, we have always had some spare capacity. In September 2013, only 106 students entered Year 7. However, due to the rapidly improving reputation of the academy and more parents or carers choosing the Marsh as their first-choice secondary school, this September we will be over subscribed for the first time.

“We are in the middle of the appeals process for parents or carers who were not allocated a place at Marsh and would like one.

“Since this process is completely independent of the academy it would not be appropriate for me to comment other than to point parents or carers in the direction of the KCC website, which gives detail on how to appeal a secondary school place or to be placed on the waiting list for the school.”

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