Tonbridge welcomes primary

Greg Clark

THE new Bishop Chavasse School in Tonbridge opened Tuesday, September 6 welcoming 60 pupils into the Reception class.

The primary, which is part of the Tenax Schools Trust, which also includes Bennett Memorial in Tunbridge Wells within its portfolio, is currently operating from a group of temporary buildings at its location in Somerhill, with work on the school’s state-of-the-art new building set to be completed by 2018.

The Tenax Trust submitted a bid to the Department for Education for a new primary school in Tonbridge in 2014 and, according to a spokesperson, the bid had three key aims.

Firstly, to enable Tonbridge parents to have the choice of a Church of England Primary School as one did not exist in the town. The second was to cater for the rapid population growth and lack of sufficient places for reception-aged children in the area. The final reason was to improve the offering of good and outstanding primary schools in the area.

The Tenax Schools Trust bid also promised a traditional primary education underpinned by a Christian ethos, and in terms of admissions, up to 25 per cent of places (up to 15 places annually) would be allocated on the basis on parental attendance at a Church of England Church.

The project was supported by Kent County Council as a key element of their strategy to meet demand for much-needed primary places in Tonbridge, and was given the green light last year.

Now the school has welcomed its first intake of students in Reception, and Headteacher Donna Weeks is very excited about what the school will be able to offer its pupils.

“I am thrilled to be the founding Headteacher of Bishop Chavasse Church of England School at such an exciting time in the school’s history,” she said.

“Opening a new school is such a unique opportunity, and one I am proud to be part of.
“I am passionate about all children receiving the very best education so that each can flourish and excel, and this is exactly what we will be offering our pupils.”

Mrs Weeks previously taught at St John’s Primary in Tunbridge Wells and St Saviour’s School in Lambeth, and worked for Oasis, a national Christian academy group.

She also helped turn around a failing school, Oasis Skinners’ Street in Gillingham, where she was Deputy then Acting Head, transforming it from a school rated by Ofsted as being in Special Measures to obtaining a ‘Good’ rating.

Her potential for official headship was recognised by the national school leadership organisation Future Leaders, who have since worked with Mrs Weeks in preparation for her leading her own school – Bishop Chavasse.

Ahead of its opening, she said that courtesy of ‘an exciting mastery curriculum and opportunities for enrichment, children will have raised aspirations for all that they can achieve’.

“Bishop Chavasse will provide a strong culture of engagement and learning for our pupils through its passion of providing excellence for all,” she added.

“As a new Church of England school, growing year by year, we will have the unique opportunity to offer a school community based on the model of a Christian family, promoting attitudes of mutual respect and responsibility where spiritual and moral development are a high priority.

“Despite starting with only our Reception children this year, our founding families will bring a rich multicultural diversity – something we celebrate – and as a result this will enhance the lives of the whole school community.

“I look forward to welcoming visitors to our school, where every child and adult are valued, and where visitors will be drawn into the learning, enjoyment and life of Bishop
Chavasse School.”


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