Plans for new secondary school at former Royal School for Deaf Children site ditched – again

How the new school would have looked Image

Plans for a new academy on the site of the former Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate have been ditched for a second time following discussions between Kent County Council and the Department for Education over the forecast of pupil numbers in the district.

The decision has been taken after secondary student numbers in Thanet dropped  below the levels predicted when the school was originally proposed in 2015.

Plans in 2017, had originally been to open at the former Walmer School site with 150 pupils and then transfer to the new build with pupil numbers predicted to double and the school roll having students from Year 7-Year 9.

At the time KCC said the move was to tackle a predicted shortfall of 309 Year 7 places  and across years 7-11  a shortage of 1256 places in Thanet by 2022/23.

However, KCC now says a change in the demographics – and in particular for the first time in many years more children leaving the area than coming in to it – has resulted in a significant drop in the number of secondary students compared to the numbers that were predicted for 2023 and has prompted the decision, which was agreed by KCC and Baroness Barran, the Minister for the School System.

The number of Year 7 students in the current academic year 2021/2022 is at least 200 lower than the predictions when the competition to identify an academy trust for the school was first run in 2015.

In October 2019 former KCC leader Paul Carter announced the decision not to go ahead with the new build at the site in Margate. KCC ditched the plan saying it instead wanted to expand existing schools in Thanet including Ursuline College and King Ethelbert’s School with a temporary expansion also planned at the Royal Harbour Academy in Ramsgate.

However KCC had to gain permission for the decision to be reversed from the Department for Education and this was refused.

Now the plans, which would have involved creating Park Crescent Academy with a new teaching block, sports hall, outdoor grass pitches and a multi-use games area, have again been dropped.

The six form academy, sponsored by The Howard Academy Trust, had been expected to open in September 2023. A 20 place Specialist Resourced Provision for pupils whose primary barrier to learning is Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was also to have been included.

Following the decision to cancel the plans, a KCC spokesman said: “Kent County Council has a duty to ensure high quality education provision is available for every child and young person in Kent.

“We believed that the Park Crescent Academy would have given families in Thanet more choice and a further opportunity to attend a school provided by an academy trust with an excellent reputation.

“It is our duty to anticipate future demand for places and the new academy was intended to address that demand for secondary school places in the area, which was expected to come about as a result of additional housing.

“However, that has not materialised so a new school is no longer required.

“KCC will continue to work in close alliance with schools and academy trusts to ensure parents and children have a choice of good secondary educational provision in Thanet.”

Cllr Barry Lewis

Kent County Councillor Barry Lewis, who represents Margate at the authority, said: “I am delighted with this decision. The money that was being spent on this school should be redirected into existing schools that urgently need more money invested in them to improve the education of existing children in Thanet.

“People in the neighbouring area will also be relieved because of the traffic nightmare this new school would have caused.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Demolition of existing buildings on the site has already taken place. In 2017 KCC approved the purchase of the site. The price paid was not revealed but documents stated it was a decision “about expenditure … over £1,000,000,” and marketing details for the site stated: “recent local land sales (have achieved) upwards of £700,000 per acre.  The RSDC comprises 14.7 acres.

The Royal School for Deaf Children was shut down suddenly in December 2015 after The John Townsend Trust, which ran it, went into administration.

The distressing closure of the school and Westgate College resulted in some 500 job losses and scores of children left without a specialist school placement.

The CQC had ordered the trust to shut down residential accommodation attached to the college with 38 residents aged 19 to 22  being moved to alternative facilities after the revelation of physical abuse incidents.

The Royal School for Deaf Children was the oldest in the country, with the Margate site dating back to 1876.


  1. Thats about right no school just hundreds new houses and a station in the middle of no where.Surely a school in the town makes sense to reduce travel to Broadstairs Ramsgate

  2. It is sad that the old school building was demolished. I can understand upkeep but I understand now that a new building has be refused on the grounds now enough pupils. Don’t the council realise that if a new modern school is built for deaf pupils it will attract people to come to the school and area. Thanet council has no idea at times. Building new home we can’t cope with too. The infrastructure is problematic at the best of times now. Doctor’s appointments can take weeks. I had to wait 3 weeks to get a telephone conversation with my doctor due to a complaint I’ve had from Covid in April 2020. The council is only after money making projects not really thinking of the residents of Thanet. I’ve lived in Thanet since the age of 12 and I’m now 73. When we moved here it was a lovely lively area with hotels for holiday makers and now nothing really for visitors. Just another seaside town with no real attractions. Sad really. We have beautiful beaches and greens up in Cliftonville. Don’t start me on Cliftonville, how that has deteriorated too.

  3. 17,200 new dwellings in Thanet by 2031. 3,300 of these being in Garlinge, Westgate and Birchington and I suspect many of these being homes for families rather than retired people. 3,300 with two children = 6,600 pupils. TDC are already looking for potential land for the next phase of house building.

    Housing developers will rub their hands with glee and go to TDC planning to say that new school places are not required because Kent Education state that school rolls are falling so why allocate land for schools.

    This decision is totally wrong and short sighted because roads outside schools are already full of cars at the end of the school day.

    • Hahahahahahaha!!! I’m really glad that your school have been demolished over for nothing and they are gone for good. Deserved your rights!!!

      • What a nasty specimen you are Mr Marty. I can never understand why idiots like you derive such pleasure from being so nasty and disrespectful to people you know nothing about. Guess you were dropped on your head at birth.
        The Deaf school was a tragic loss for those with hearing problems and is sorely missed.
        PS. It seems your own schooling wasn’t up to much looking at your low standard of grammar and sentence construction.

    • Question: The 90 second walk school is it a secondary school or a junior. The one on the deaf school site was to be a secondary school. Had the school been built there would have been sufficient land on the site to build a junior school allowing for a straight transition from one part of the site to another much like St George’s in Broadstairs where both Junior and secondary schools have been sited with their own entrance/exits.

    • Dane Court and Charles Dickens secondary are both next door to each other in Broadstairs! Is that a new regulation?

  4. God are those who plan the schools classed as experts. Hundreds of homes being built with families plus the mass exodus of Londoners who can’t wait to get to move to Thanet and the planning jokers waste time and money on this fiasco.

  5. I have been trying to campaign for nearly two years about the proposed Park Crescent School, arguing that it is neither needed, because the number of children are not there, that the design is a rotten one, being forced into a very cramped and inappropriate area, And it would probably close Hartsdown Academy which has recently opened a new multi-million pound building. . You will find my most recent article, widely read, which sets out a full analysis of the issues, here:

  6. Seems the deaf ears at TDC and KCC need to replaced with ones that work – we have planning departments at TDC and KCC that constantly wing it on promises of jam tomorrow if they can have their houses today despite local protests and the voice of common sense.
    It is simply not good enough – the next ‘casualty’ will be the glamourously named ‘inner circuit’. This is a so called ring road cobbled together from existing back roads (Manston Road / Shottendane) and new tarmac on prime fields all funded by developers (ha, ha) and the hope of a government grant at some time in the future. All justified on conditio that houses are built first.
    It’s time for a new broom in the TDC and KCC planning departments, they are not fit for purpose.

  7. The drive way, flag pole and field are protected and cannot be built on. This was a condition of the sale. I also believe the sale was also under the condition that it would be a school again.

    • Following an FOI, I can confirm there are no conditions on the use of the site. The response read: The purchase price was £6.8m and the vendor was “The Royal School for Deaf Children Margate of Victoria Road, Margate, Kent CT9 1NB as holding trustee for the unincorporated charity the John Townsend Foundation and with the concurrence of the charity trustee of that charity, the John Townsend Trust. I understand that there was a condition of purchase that the land was to be used for a school (a) is this true (b) I request a copy of the condition. What other conditions were set regard land use? There was no condition of purchase that the land was to be used for a school and no other conditions were set regarding land use contractually. The freehold interest was transferred subject to the benefit of two leases where specific land use was already established namely an Electricity substation and the hydrotherapy pool complex known as Bluewave.

  8. I cannot understand where the statistics that there are less children in the area than anticipated has come from.
    It is blatantly obvious that Thanet’s population has increased immensely, going by the amount of traffic on the roads and the number of people shopping all the time, and I’m not just talking about the Christmas period either.
    Not all these people are from the older generations, far from it, and will have a corresponding number of children in their families.
    Statistics can be translated in any way that is wished, can’t they KCC??

  9. Short sighted, not planning for the future, thinking they will get a better return selling it to developers now it has been razed to the ground? Take your pick !

  10. Now that the PM is committed to prioritising ‘brownfield’ and given the local demand for affordable social renting one wonders whether the revised Local Plan will re-orient itself accordingly ? This strange new phenomenon called ‘online’ is causing the ‘Big Boxes’ to rethink their estates (all those car parks) and of course SAGA has ‘fallen’ to home working + the emphasis on ‘urban optimisation’ (that is no ‘social cleansing’ to worry about ?) and a much declined fertility rates nationally + the discovery thyat water resources in the SE (especially Thanet) can’t keep up with the present population – all will no doubt feature in the revised LP (definite maybe !)

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