Latest News and Information
5th January 2016
Update on Bishop Chavasse Primary Free School
Many parents have been eagerly awaiting an announcement about the location of the Bishop Chavasse Primary Free School in Tonbridge. At the time of the last update on 18th November, both the Department for Education and the Tenax Schools Trust, incorporating Bennett Memorial Diocesan School, the new school’s sponsors, believed that we were very close to being able to confirm the acquisition of the site for Bishop Chavasse School to open in September 2016.
Although further progress has been made on the purchase of the site for the school since November, we have unfortunately not yet been able to finalise it. Because of the long period of time this process has taken, and particularly because of where we are now in the primary school admissions cycle, the Department for Education and the Trust have agreed to defer the opening of the new school to September 2017.
Ian Bauckham, Executive Headteacher of Bennett, said: “Although we realise this will be disappointing for many of the school’s supporters, and we are all too aware how much this new school is needed in Tonbridge, we believe that today’s decision will be for the best in the long term. It gives certainty to parents seeking primary school places for 2016, and it will mean that the new school will aim to open on its permanent site and in its brand new building, rather than opening on a temporary site in its first year. We hope that very soon now we will be able to announce where that is and that soon after that construction will begin.”
Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, who has been working closely with the DfE and the Tenax Schools Trust, said: “I am very disappointed by the delay to the Bishop Chavasse Primary Free School opening. Ian Bauckham has been tireless in his efforts to complete the initial phase of this important project and those of us who have been working hard to support him are deeply frustrated that we are unable to open this year. The school will fill an important need in Tonbridge and is now closer to opening than it has ever been. It is important for the future prosperity of the school that it is able to operate on one site, rather than spending a year in a temporary location beforehand.
In the meantime, I will be writing to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to ensure that all remaining negotiations are completed quickly, so that construction can begin as soon as possible ahead of the opening in September 2017. This is a project I have been pushing for at every level of the Department for Education and I will continue to do my utmost to see it completed as soon as possible. I would like to thank all at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School for their hard work to date.”
Mr Bauckham added: “We would like to thank all the school’s many supporters for their patience and encouragement in recent weeks.”