Education: Support Weald Schooling

What is it?

Support Weald Schooling is a campaign to gather local support to demand a new, non-selective secondary school for The Weald.

Why is it needed?

The rural areas are deprived of secondary education places: the High Weald is recognised as being a significant ‘cold spot’ by the Department for Education. Put bluntly, this means there is inadequate education provision at secondary school level as they are failing to meet the demand for places. This is resulting in our children across the High Weald having to travel for long times and distances to attend secondary schools in Maidstone, Paddock Wood, Tenterden or Wadhurst.

What is the impact?

As the majority of these children are dependent on school buses, it means they cannot take part in after school clubs.  Travelling from great distances means their friendship groups are scattered across a large area. Equally, the rural areas suffer as there is no sense of community.

Whilst there is academically selective provision, it cannot cater for all who pass the early age exam.  Those who do not pass are sent to schools already catering for a vast number of pupils.

We are also aware that they do not have a good Ofsted profile for children on a pupil premium.

How many children are being affected?

We have identified that in 2023, there were 525 Year 6 children across The Weald who attended primary schools within 7 miles of Cranbrook.  Many such children, and their families, would greatly benefit by having an alternative secondary school closer to their home.

All parishes are seeing planning developments which will bring more families into our communities, meaning there will be more children year on year.

Do you want more of the same?

We have seen that in the Tunbridge Wells Council plan there are comments about the recognition of the need for a new school.  That’s good.  However, alarmingly, it seems Leigh Academy Trust, who now runs the Special Educational Needs Snowfields Academy in Cranbrook, is discussing with KCC to sell land for housing to enable the extension of Mascalls Academy, Paddock Wood, to a 12-form entry – making it the largest school in West Kent. Our children from small rural primary schools, many on Pupil Premium (Cranbrook 34%), are unlikely to settle at a school with 360 pupils per year group.

Their plan will make a bad situation even worse.  Making big schools even bigger with even more children having to travel great distances is not the answer!

Kent County Council and Leigh Academy Trust (LAT)

Kent County Council has, at last, responded agreeing to talk to us about the poor educational provision for the High Weald.  A meeting has been suggested in the coming weeks.  As soon as a date has been confirmed we will inform you and, subsequently, update our post here.

We have requested a meeting with the Head of Planning for LAT to discuss the community needs as far back as August 2023.  Until recently we failed even to receive a reply.

Interestingly, LAT was quick to respond by attempting to block our acquisition of a building as a much needed ‘Asset for the Community’.  The building in question has been unused by them throughout their stewardship and now lies outside the perimeter of Snowfields Academy, being allowed to decay.  No reason for not wanting to help the community was offered.

It took the persuasive power of Ms Helen Grant MP to force LAT to respond.  Their suggestion was a possible meeting no earlier than June 3rd.  Clearly this was not acceptable.  A second, even more forceful, demand of them to engage with their community has been issued by Ms Grant.  We await LAT’s reply.  We will inform you once we know the date and outcome of our meeting.

What can you do?

  • Sign the petition by scanning this QR code or visiting
  • Tell others and get them to sign it
  • Keep involved in the campaign by following updates on our facebook page (Support Weald Schooling) or on your parish council website
  • Be prepared to respond and support when asked

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  Your involvement could make a great difference to a lot of families.


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