New School Project

It is of course excellent and encouraging news that we have successfully made the list for the Department for Education's (DfE) Priority Schools Building Programme 2 (PSBP2).  For many years the school, it's staff, parents, governors and the Church, as well as other people from our community , have fought to raise the profile of our school and the need for a brand new building.  This latest announcement is a consequence of the efforts and dedication of those who have led the campaign.

There is a renewed sense of optimism within the school and the realisation of the Benenden Church of England Primary School vision is a significant step closer.  It is right to celebrate this news and it has been a long time coming, however we also need to recognise there is still a huge amount of work to be done to get a new school built.  The governing body have many questions of the DfE and Kent County Council (KCC) as I'm sure parents also do.  In the list below we have provided some answers to those that have been most frequently asked and aim to share as much as we know about our latest position.

First it is necessary to explain exactly what the PSBP2 scheme is.  The Education Funding Agency (EFA), part of the DfE, launched this scheme in May of last year to undertake major rebuilding and refurbishment projects to address the needs of those schools in the very worst condition.  They have a total fund of £2 billion.   Following much lobbying by the school governors and its representatives KCC submitted an application on our behalf.  It is this application that has been successful.  In total 277 schools nationwide have been notified that their applications have been successful.  These projects are directly funded by the DfE rather than KCC.

At this stage our successful application has convinced the EFA that the condition of our school buildings do not meet the standards expected of a 21st Century school and that something needs to be done to bring them up to modern standards.  We believe the only feasible way to do this is to build a new school on a separate site.  

 

What happens next?

In February/March the EFA will make arrangements to visit our school to carry out a scoping study to understand the detailed work required, any specific site issues and to review the best method and timescale for delivery.  Governors are in contact with the EFA to arrange this visit as soon as possible.

 

Political Interest

Governors wish to maintain the high profile of the school whilst the scoping study is carried out and the General Election approaches. We understand that Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, has invited Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and that Jasper Gerard, prospective LibDem candidate has invited David Laws, Minister for Schools, to visit the school.   The governors have also extended an invitation to Paul Carter, Leader of KCC and Roger Gough Cabinet member for Education.  We look forward to these visits.

 

When will building start?

The EFA have committed to advise all of the schools whose application has been successful under this latest scheme by the Autumn of this year exactly what work will be carried out and when.  The timetable will be published as soon as further details are known.

 

How much will the project cost?

The new school is estimated to cost approximately £4m. We understand that this is the figure used by KCC in the successful PSBP2 application. The scoping study will help the EFA confirm more exactly the funding it believes is needed.

 

When will the new school be ready to use?

Please see the answer above.

 

How many classrooms will it have?

The approved plans show 7 classrooms, one for each year group including reception class

 

Will it have a separate dining hall?

The approved plans include a hall (with adjacent kitchen) intended to be used for school assembly, PE and dining. No stage for theatrical productions is included on account of proximity to the excellent facilities available for hire in the Village Hall

 

Will there be a pre-school facility?

An area for such a facility is earmarked on the approved plans. Funding is not available through the EFA's PSBP2 programme. Governors understand that pre-school facilities recently built in neighbouring villages have been the subject, at least in part, of lottery funding

 

Will the new school have special needs facilities?

By law any new school built must be DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant.  KCC build  special support units in some mainstream schools where they are needed. At the current time, we have not been asked to accommodate a special unit.  However, many of the space restrictions found in the existing premises, which currently limit one-to-one and small group teaching, should become a thing of the past.

 

Will the new school have a playground?

Our approved plans include a playground, technically known as a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA). This will be flat, appropriately surfaced and marked out for tennis, net ball etc.

 

Will we still be a church school?

Yes, our relationship with the Church of England and the Diocese of Canterbury will remain unchanged. We intend to continue to enjoy our strong links with St. George's Benenden.   

 

Should you have any further questions please contact us at headteacher@benenden-cep.kent.sch.uk<mailto:headteacher@benenden-cep.kent.sch.uk>