If there’s any new secondary school for Herne Bay and Whitstable, then it should be open to all our children, not just the few who pass the Kent Test.
Kent County Council has decided we need a ‘satellite’ grammar school between Herne Bay and Whitstable. Two local grammar schools are now bidding for cash to open a school most local children can’t use.
Thanks to the 400+ people who signed our petition to oppose this ‘satellite’ plan. It’s pleasing that 110 of the signatures were from members of the public living in an address with a CT postcode, with many more from surrounding areas of Kent. It is clear that there is limited local support for a ‘satellite’ grammar school. We know most local parents prefer high-quality schools in Herne Bay and Whitstable that are open to ALL the children in our communities. Whitstable and Herne Bay schools already have successful ‘grammar streams’ for children who pass the Kent Test.
The consultation on the plans to build a new selective school on the coast have now closed. The Independent covered this story, pointing out the very worrying fact two local heads say another school will close if this ‘satellite’ school opens.
The Department for Education will consider the schools’ bids for funding and we’ll learn in the autumn whether the plan will go ahead. Thanks to everyone who signed and shared the petition, and took part in the consultations. We don’t need a new coastal grammar school – let’s hope this proposal is turned down.
Here are some common myths about grammar school places locally.
Myth: Children who pass the Kent Test need a grammar school place and they have no local provision.
Fact: There is excellent specialist provision for pupils who pass the test in local schools. Herne Bay High and The Whitstable School give priority to pupils who pass the Kent Test to join their ‘grammar streams.’ These give dedicated support to high attainers in schools that ensure choice for other parents. This means primary school friends can transfer to a secondary school together, whether or not the pass the Kent Test.
Myth: Grammar streams in non-selective schools are not as good as grammar schools.
Fact: The Canterbury Academy grammar stream achieved 98% 5 A*-Cs in its first year, beating many local grammars. Herne Bay High is in the top 5 schools for A level progress. The Whitstable Scool has an inspirational new head who has introduced debating, impressive speakers, and she plans to offer the International Baccalaureate, usually available in top independent schools. These schools offer triple science, languages, computer science, and exactly the same curriculum as selective schools. They have as much to offer as grammar schools without denying entry to 75% of local pupils.
Myth : There will be a shortage of selective school places soon.
Fact: 33% of secondary school places in Canterbury and Faversham are in grammar schools, but Kent County Council say just 25% of pupils should attend selective schools. Local grammars have been expanding and taking 50+ pupils a year without a test pass, while the Canterbury Head Teacher Appeal panel turns more ‘fail’ results to a ‘pass’ than any other panel in Kent! This is because there are so many grammar school places to fill. If we send a quarter of local children to grammar school instead of a third we will have a surplus of grammar school places for many years to come.
Myth: The coastal grammar school will operate like any regular selective school.
Fact: New selective schools are unlawful, so to dodge legal issues the new coastal grammar school will educate pupils in Faversham or
Myth: Grammar schools are all about giving parents choice.
Fact: Grammar schools reduce choice for most parents. Taking faith schools out of the picture (they’re not options for most) a Kent Test pass means a choice of seven local schools, while not having a test pass gives just four school choices. This is
Myth: Grammar pupils are travelling too far to get to school.
Fact: More children travel to non-selective schools than to grammar schools from Herne Bay and Whitstable. It is natural for any parent to want to choose a school, rather than automatically going to the one school in town. Kent County Council appear to only care about school travel and choice for 25% parents, we think they should care about the 75% of local parents who consider using transport to widen school options.
The consultation to decide on a new local school is just FOUR WEEKS LONG! This is clearly not designed to encourage debate about the school we need for our towns. It’s designed to rush this plan through without local discussion. Even if you’re not sure what you want
email firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com before April 17th, and tell the schools to hold off on their funding applications.
There is a £50 million fund every year for grammar schools to expand so we can explore options thoughtfully. We would like to run a survey for parents in Herne Bay and Whitstable to find out what parents really want from local secondary school provision. Our council have not asked what people want, they have told us what we need. Four weeks is not long enough to decide on an education establishment that should serve our towns for centuries.
All Herne Bay and Whitstable children deserve a great new secondary school.
The only way to ensure all local children have more choice is for any new school to have open admissions.
The ONLY way to stop this rushed plan, that reduces local school choice for most parents, is to tell the grammar schools you don’t want a ‘satellite’ school.