Consultation on plans for a secondary free school on the former Royal School for Deaf Children site in Margate is now open.
Kent County Council will fund the majority of a £20 million project to build the six form school, which is expected to provide places for 900 11-16 year olds.
The isle has a shortage of secondary school places available. This year the shortfall was met by three schools taking more than their admission places -Royal Harbour Academy 31 places, Ursuline College 30 places and St George’s CE Foundation School 10 places.
But education chiefs are prediction a shortfall of 183 Year 7 places for 2019/20 and this rises to 227 by 2022/23 if no action is taken.
Across the school year (Years 7-11) this could mean a shortage of 920 places by 2022/23.
The new school in Margate would help combat this, along with a £3 million expansion at Ursuline school in Westgate and other isle secondaries taking on extra pupils on a temporary basis from 2018.
A competition process is now underway to find a sponsor for the new secondary in Margate. Two applications previously received did not receive consent from the Department for Education.
Applications from potential sponsors are open until January 15, 2018. The Secretary of State will decide who will get the role by April 2018.
The school will be an academy receiving its revenue budget directly from central government each year.
The secondary, which will be a free school, is expected to open for the first year in 2019 at the former Walmer School site with 150 pupils, although other sites are being considered. They will then transfer to the new build the following year with pupil numbers predicted to have doubled and the school roll having students from Year 7-Year 9. By 2022/23 the school is predicted to have 690 pupils enrolled.
The school will also have a 15 place special educational needs provision.
Although plans have not been finalised it is anticipated the new school with benefit from an outdoor multi-use games area (MUGA) and that there will be a designated car park and drop-off area to reduce the impact on the surrounding roads.
A one-off grant of £25,000 will be provided to the successful sponsor by the DfE to cover legal expenses. KCC will provide a budget of £50,000 for start-up costs which will typically commence from January through to 31 August prior to the new school opening on 1 September 2019.
The school will receive guaranteed funding during the first three years.
More school places
Roger Gough, KCC’s cabinet member for children, young people and education, said: “Thanet has been identified as an area where the birth rate is higher than both the national and county average. As a consequence of this, as well as inward migration into the district, we will need to find more school places for both primary and secondary children in the coming years.
“Our Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2017-2021 identifies the need for new school provision across Kent, including up to eight form entry in the Thanet district in the medium term and 10 form entry in the longer term as new housing developments proceed.
“Our intention now is to secure a sponsor who can work with us to ensure a new, high quality secondary school can be opened at the Margate site to cater for the rising number of pupils in the area.
“Kent County Council is responsible for ensuring there are sufficient high quality school places for all learners in the county and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Buying the site
A Kent County Council decision to buy the former Royal School for Deaf Children in Victoria Road was approved in September.
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.
Have your say
Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Marisa White, Area Education Officer, East Kent Education Office, Brook House, Whitstable, CT5 3SS.
Further information can also be found on KCC website at: www.kent.gov.uk/educationprovision
Information on the website will be updated over the coming months.
Consultation closes on January 15, 2018.