Gale`s View – 23rd
Herne Bay at last faces the prospect of a dedicated Grammar
School to serve the Town. It has been a long time coming but the proposal to
transfer Barton Court, lock, stock and barrel, to The Bay, marks a significant
step forward towards the resolution of a problem that I for one have been
seeking to have addressed since I was first elected to parliament in 1983.
There is, of course, a long way to go before any deal is
signed with the necessary funding in place and that, inevitably, will lead to
an unwelcome period of uncertainty. If, though, that is the price that
has to be paid to put an end to the daily transfer of pupils out of Herne Bay
to selective schools in Canterbury, Thanet and Faversham then, if successful,
it will have been worthwhile.
I believe that the Headteacher and Governors of Barton
Court, working with the developer of the former golf course site, Mark Quinn,
have shown very considerable courage in their determination to take the
proposition forward. This is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
to tackle the future needs of the school and to take advantage of a major
development that will provide much-needed high-quality housing and sports
facilities for Herne Bay.
I understand, of course, that there will be those resident
on the far side of Canterbury who will find the prospect of sending children to
Herne Bay unpalatable or even logistically unachievable and as the scheme
progresses there will, inevitably, be a period of adjustment and movement
between schools as families position themselves to accommodate the extra
accommodation that Barton Court will be able to offer in Herne Bay and places
released in other locations. That, though, cannot be allowed to be a
reason for opposing a move that will, when brought to fruition as I trust that
it will be, benefit future generations of young people living not only in The
Bay but in Chestfield, Tankerton and Whitstable also.