He­len Whately

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Ev­ery child de­serves the chance to go to a good school – and prefer­ably a good school close to home. We have some fan­tas­tic lo­cal schools but with more chil­dren, there’s in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion for places.

I’ve been help­ing a fam­ily from a lo­cal vil­lage who couldn’t get their child into a school in Maid­stone, so they’ve been of­fered a place on the Isle of Shep­pey. That’s a long trip for a child to make ev­ery day. Kent County Coun­cil are pre­dict­ing as many as 74 sec­ondary school chil­dren could be in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion in 2020-21 un­less we ur­gently ad­dress this prob­lem.

Val­ley In­victa Academies Trust (VIAT) had their ap­pli­ca­tion to open a new non-selec­tive school spe­cial­is­ing in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and maths ap­proved in 2015. It was orig­i­nally meant to open this Septem­ber. Then it was pushed back to 2018. Now I’ve found out it’s been de­layed again be­cause of plan­ning wran­gles. This is not fair for the chil­dren who should be go­ing new school. I’m or­gan­is­ing a meet­ing with the re­gional schools com­mis­sioner, Kent County Coun­cil, Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil and I hope a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from VIAT, to work out how we make sure we get the school in 2019.

I know some peo­ple are con­cerned that a new school in the same place as Val­ley Park and In­victa Gram­mar will add to traf­fic in New Cut Road. Hand in hand with the school should be in­vest­ment in roads, along with buses and walk­ing routes to re­duce the num­ber of pupils dropped off by car. We also need a new pri­mary school and a spe­cial school for chil­dren in Maid­stone and Bearsted.

There are plans to get these open but they have been de­layed and won’t be ready by next year, so I’m call­ing on the com­mis­sioner to make sure both are ready to ad­mit pupils in Septem­ber 2019.

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