Published: 06:00, 21 January 2021
| Updated: 07:47, 21 January 2021
Funding for a £4 million grammar school expansion has been approved by councillors.
Highsted Grammar School in Sittingbourne is to grow its intake of Year 7 pupils from September, from 120 to 150.
The investment will mean this can continue on a permanent basis from the 2022 academic year and allow the school to build new classrooms.
By 2027 it will mean the school would have expanded by 150 places.
Kent County Council’s education committee unanimously agreed on the funding for the Highsted Road site on Friday.
It comes amid a predicted shortage of 69 Year 7 spaces at grammar schools in Sittingboune and Sheppey by 2023, due to an “increase in the birth rate, inward migration and house building”.
Highsted is one of two grammars in Sittingbourne. The other, Borden Grammar, is also looking to increase its roll by 30 from September to help meet the shortfall.
Schools in nearby Faversham, Canterbury and Maidstone are also oversubscribed and cannot help ease the pressure.
Despite being approved, concerns were raised about road safety, including traffic from school buses and an “unsafe” footpath at the top end of Highsted Road.
A consultation on the proposal will begin early this year so the public can have their say.
Highsted Grammar head teacher Anne Kelly said: “We are pleased that funding for the required expansion of the school has been agreed. Any issues related to the project will be dealt with in consultation with all relevant stakeholders at the pre-planning stage.
“The project is at an early stage in its development but currently the intention is that the project will be submitted to the council for a planning decision sometime in the autumn.”