Published: 06:00, 07 April 2021
A consultation has opened into plans to expand a Sittingbourne selective school by 150 places over the next five years.
Borden Grammar in the Avenue of Remembrance was asked by Kent County Council (KCC) to increase its pupil intake to cater for the growing demand for places across Swale.
Starting from September 2022, the school hopes to add an extra 30 spaces for Year 7 pupils each year, taking the annual intake from 120 to 150.
The expansion means in five years’ time, the school will have a total of 750 pupils across all year groups, 150 more than it currently has.
It comes amid a predicted shortage of 72 Year 7 spaces at grammar schools in Sittingbourne and Sheppey by 2023/24, as the local population continues to expand.
To accommodate the extra numbers, KCC hopes to build a new three-court sports hall, more classrooms, a new science room while extending the kitchen and dining area.
Traffic and parking assessments will be carried out as part of the design process.
Cllr John Wright, KCCs Conservative councillor for Sittingbourne South, backed the expansion plans but is worried about traffic during pick up times.
He said: “I would still urge parents to support the consultation because this is something I am working to find a long term solution for.
“But having school places is paramount and if we have put up with traffic issues in the short term then so be it.
“We can’t impact on children’s education any more especially given the disruption seen over the last year. We will find a solution.”
Sittingbourne’s other selective school, Highsted Grammar for girls, had a £4m plan to expand by 150 places approved by councillors in January.
In a letter home to parents, Sarah Mendoza, the chairwoman of trustees at Borden said: “We believe we have a moral and civic duty as a community grammar school to be able to offer places to all those young people who are eligible.
“Since Highsted is also expanding, it is also important in terms of equality that we offer the same opportunity to boys that is being offered to girls.
“It will also really benefit the school, making us more financially viable and alleviating some of the resource pressures that already exist.
“A great deal of preliminary work has gone into negotiating this expansion since the start of this academic year, in what has already been a year full of unparalleled disruption.
“We believe that this is a hugely beneficial opportunity for Borden that will safeguard our future as a leading selective school in the area.”
Borden Grammar School will hold a virtual drop-in session via Google Meet on Wednesday, April 21 at 4pm.
To attend, call the school on 01795 424192.
The consultation closes on May 24. To find out more, click here.