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Thursday, 22 February 2018 16:40

Barton Court Grammar: Another Bid for a coastal Annexe?

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Update: No Kent grammar schools were successful in the 2019 Round for grammar school expansions. 

A Freedom of Information Request to the Department for Education has discovered that three grammar schools have made enquiries about opening possible annexes in the past year, one of which is the mixed Barton Court Grammar in Canterbury.

Barton Court

With the new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds signalling his ‘enthusiastic’ support for grammar and faith school expansion, this now looks very much on the agenda.

I have followed the Barton Court proposals closely and commented on them for some years,  proposals which date back to the 1980’s when KCC planned to move the whole school to the coast. A satellite provision in Herne Bay was proposed in 2013, followed by a proposal to shift the whole school, which was dropped in the face of opposition by parents.

In the case of Faith Schools, the proposition is to remove the current requirement to remove the 50% maximum bar on faith children being removed. The Roman Catholic Church is currently refusing to sponsor new Free Schools whilst it is in place and it may be that Mr Hinds, a Catholic himself, has a different take on the consequent issues. 

An article on potential new Free Schools from last year, considers alternative possibilities for new grammar schools. 
Barton Court
The original proposal in the 1980’s was simply to re-site the whole school to become the Coastal Grammar School, as there was pressure on places from families in Whitstable and Herne Bay, whose children needed and still need to travel to Canterbury, Faversham or Thanet to take up grammar places. A headteacher was appointed to take the move through, but in the event it fell through, possibly from financial reasons. It was not resurrected until early in 2013 when an annexe was proposed with a site to be provided by a private developer. By October of the same year, the plan had changed to move the whole school. This proved very popular with parents living in the Coastal towns, but equally unpopular with Canterbury families and with headteachers of local non-selective schools. You will find a summary of the issues hereIn the end, the proposal fell through around August 2014, probably for reasons of finance, my article providing links to other relevant items on this website (or by using the search engine).
Text Village Ac Main

The school has recently taken over the Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs as a Sponsored Academy and is also sponsoring a new secondary Free School on the old Chaucer School site. It is also in the process of a major building scheme on the school site, to cater for its recent expansion to an intake of 150 pupils. It clearly feels capable of taking on new challenges, although it faces its own issues, including a surplus of girls’ grammar places in the town, losing a quarter of its Year 11 pupils before the Sixth Form on a regular basis, one of the highest grammar school drop out rates in Kent, with more going at the end of Year 12.

There is no doubt an annexe would be popular with families in Herne Bay and Whitstable, but the children would be mainly drawn from Barton Court main school itself, and Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar, Simon Langton Boys being heavily oversubscribed. This would weaken both schools as there is no overall shortage of grammar places in the District.  This is a very different picture from that at Weald of Kent Grammar, where there were always additional girls who would be able to fill up the new places created by the Annexe. The 2017 October census notes that both Weald of Kent main school and its annexe are full in Year Seven. 


Read 3207 times Last modified on Sunday, 29 March 2020 07:53

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