Kent grammar school will SHUT for two days after Christmas over fear Brexit will spark traffic chaos


Kent grammar school will SHUT for two days after Christmas and teach pupils remotely over fears Brexit will spark traffic chaos with lorry jams on the M20

  • Maidstone Grammar School, Kent will host live virtual lessons on January 4 and 5
  • The 16th century all boys secondary school is based a mile away from the M20
  • There are fears it could be jammed with lorries if there are delays at Port of Dover
  • Headteacher Mark Tomkins said student education may be negatively impacted

A grammar school is set to close for two days after Christmas and teach pupils remotely over fears Brexit will spark traffic chaos.

Maidstone Grammar School in Kent will host live virtual lessons for all year groups using Microsoft Teams on January 4 and January 5.

The 16th century all boys secondary is based a mile away from the M20, which could be jammed with lorries if there are delays at the Port of Dover.

Headteacher Mark Tomkins said student’s education could be negatively impacted if they or their teachers are stuck in traffic for hours.

Addressing parents in a six and a half minute video, he said: ‘We just don’t know what’s going to happen but it’s vital we are prepared for all possibly eventualities.’

Mr Tomkins added: ‘I know asking students to stay at home for these first two days of term following all that we have experienced since September is not ideal and is something we have had to consider very carefully.

‘It is not a decision that we have taken lightly but in order for us to understand the impact of the UK leaving the EU, we need to give ourselves a small window of time – these two days on January 4 and 5 – to prepare for possible longer periods of disruption if that is required.’

The closure is part of draft contingency plans drawn up by the school after Kent County Council asked it to minimise any potential disruption to education.

Monday January 4 is the first working day after the Brexit transition period ends on Friday January 1.

Maidstone Grammar School in Kent (pictured) will host live virtual lessons for all year groups using Microsoft Teams on January 4 and January 5

It is hoped students will be able to return to Maidstone Grammar School later that week.

But if the road network is impacted as feared, the school day may shortened to avoid rush hour, with pupils also asked to make a staggered return to the classroom.

Mr Tomkins added: ‘It could be that if there is significant disruption, then we may need to adjust the school day slightly for a short period of time to incorporate a slightly later start and a slightly earlier finish.

‘There may be a need to welcome students back in stages as we did back in September.’

Highways bosses are preparing for Brexit by testing new schemes to alleviate Port-bound traffic if border checks cause chaos.

Operation Brock, a temporary central reservation installed on the London-bound M20 to keep traffic moving in both directions while lorries queue towards the coast, is set to be trialled this weekend so it is ready if needed on January 1.

The 16th century all boys secondary is based a mile away from the M20, which could be jammed with lorries if there are delays at the Port of Dover (file photo)

The 16th century all boys secondary is based a mile away from the M20, which could be jammed with lorries if there are delays at the Port of Dover (file photo)

Operation Stack where the coastbound carriageway is used to park HGVs could also be used to avoid gridlock on surrounding roads.

Mr Tomkins added: ‘With potential disruption to Kent ports, this may mean major delays on routes to the coast – one of them being the M20 – and this could have a significant impact on Maidstone and its surrounding area and on the many staff and students who travel from further afield to get to school.

‘All of us in Kent have become familiar with Operation Stack but the warnings that we are receiving regarding potential delays at the coast and the impact this will have on the wider infrastructure in Kent may mean that the impact that Operation Stack causes is much greater in the New Year than under normal circumstances.

‘With MGS being only one mile from the M20, it is therefore feasible that many staff and students may have difficulties getting into school for a short period of time until things settle down.

‘Having staff stuck in traffic and unable to get to school on time would present considerable capacity and health and safety issues and the last thing I’d wish to be doing is to be sending students home at the last minute in response to a situation which might have reasonably been foreseen.’

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