Gale's View - 9th February 2012
Herne Bay needs a new secondary school. I am astonished that anyone should suggest otherwise and I am appalled by the perspective that appears to be emanating from County Hall in relation to this issue.
It is quite simply incorrect to suggest that even today only a handful of The Bay`s schoolchildren are compelled to travel out of the town for their education when it is blindingly obvious that scores of young people – all of those that live outside the Greenhill/Town Centre catchment area for Herne Bay High in fact – are being bussed or driven or are travelling by train to schools in Faversham, Canterbury and Thanet.
Herne Bay High is an excellent school and I know that under successive Head teachers it has long held aspirations to be fully Comprehensive and that, therefore, it has generated opposition to selective education.
We have, though, in Kent, a wide and admirable choice of education and the Grammar Schools that offer social mobility to so many young people (I benefited from the system myself, as did many Tory and Labour MPs) is an integral and vital part of that choice. Trying to cram all of The Bay`s children into one superschool” in Greenhill would damage the education of all.
Personally, I have always wished to see a satellite Grammar School established in Herne Bay to obviate the need for our local children to spend hours travelling out of area. What is certain, though, is that with the building of still more family housing we are either going to have to construct a new secondary school – and the Kitewood Site” would be my own preferred option – or we are going to see still more young people travelling daily to establishments further afield and away from their families and friends and communities.
It appears to surprise those responsible for what is risibly known as strategic planning” that if you allow the construction of the three and four bedroomed houses for which there is a growing demand then those homes are likely to accommodate children that will need to be educated. It may well be that some schools in East Kent are located on the wrong sites and are therefore under-subscribed and it may well also be true that some schools in West Kent, taking children, as they do, from East Sussex, are overcrowded but that is not a good reason to deny Herne Bay and its families the local facilities that they need . To suggest that a new school will not be necessary for at least another ten years” smacks of politicians trying to kick a potentially costly issue into the long grass. For far too long Kent`s Education Department has, in my view, been driven by centralised doctrine and the sooner that control of schooling is taken completely out of the hands of County Hall and devolved to more local communities and to individual schools, the better.