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Open days announced for new Faygate School

A brand-new school on the borders of Crawley and Horsham will be opening its doors to children next year and prospective families can learn all about it at three upcoming open events.



Kilnwood Vale Primary School will offer a purpose-built environment for
children to ‘grow, learn and flourish’ in Faygate as part of the GLF Trust,
which already has two schools in West Sussex. The school will join Forge
Wood Primary, which opened in September 2016 and Southgate Primary, both in

The new school will be become part of the wider group of schools across
Surrey, Croydon, Wokingham and Oxfordshire, and will benefit from the
Trust’s experience of opening new schools. The most recent GLF school to
have an Ofsted inspection was Chestnut Park Primary in Croydon, which
opened in September 2015 and was judged to be ‘outstanding’ in every
category when the report was released June 2018.

Kilnwood Vale Primary School will open next September with a class of 30
Reception children. The school’s nursery will also open in September with
places available for two, three and four-year-olds.

“Our new school will benefit from sharing outstanding resources and support
in every aspect of school life,”  said Jon Chaloner, CEO of GLF Schools.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the first families to the new school which
will be at the heart of the Kilnwood Vale community. Opening a new school
is always an exciting time and we are delighted to have this opportunity.”

Planning permission for the single-storey free school was granted in the
summer and work is underway on the Faygate site with construction team
Wilmott Dixon working on the project.

The school will ultimately be two-form entry, with associated nursery
spaces. There will be drop-off access at the new building which will be set
back from the road. Further parking will be provided in the neighbourhood
centre with a park and stride in the next phase of development.

Applications for places at Kilnwood Vale Primary School have already
started rolling in after the first open event last month, and there are
three more events before applications for places close.

The next open event will be held on Saturday, November 17 at Bewbush Barn
Church, Frances Edwards Way, and prospective families are invited to attend
the session which starts with a presentation at 10am.

There will be further events on Wednesday, December 5 at Forge Wood School
at 2pm and 4pm, where there will be the opportunity to see another of GLF’s
new schools.

The final session will be on Tuesday, January 8 with a
presentation at 4pm at Faygate Village Hall. The closing date for
applications to join the first cohort is January 15, 2019, with offers
being made on April 16.

Further information about the school and how to apply for places can be
found on the website at


‘Amazing’ the words of pupils as Crawley school bounces back

Last year the only words to describe Thomas Bennett Community College that were being shared across Tilgate and around Crawley were ‘strike’, ‘desperate’ and ‘cuts’.



Politicians around the area were up in arms as panic began to slowly set in as parents, students and even teachers began to club together as worry of the schools future was banded around.

It got so bad that a public meeting was called with even the town council leader speaking out saying ‘people are desperate’. What then followed was a call for a strike and even pupils deciding to take action themselves before protesters then marched through the town.

Reports of teachers and support staff quitting their jobs only added to the heated discussions being held. All said it left Thomas Bennett Community College under a very dark cloud.

Fast forward almost a year and it is a very different story and one that needs to be proclaimed with the loudest of voices from the highest of towers.

For a change has occurred within the very fabric of the school and it is evident, not just from details within a new Ofsted report, but also from the energy of both the pupils and the staff.

School should be a safe and happy environment. It should be a place where young people can learn, where staff can help develop young minds in a caring and motivated environment. It should be a place that creates fond memories. Well now all these ‘should bes’ are becoming a reality.

No one person can make such a dramatic change, it takes many, but what it does require is a leader to take hold of the reins and to show belief and this is exactly what the new head Stuart Smith has done.

Headteacher Stuart Smith

Mr Smith only took over as headteacher in January this year but in less than six months the change has been meteoric and this hasn’t just been noticed by those who can be the most critical, the pupils, but also the inspectors.

Three years ago an Ofsted report deemed the school ‘Requires Improvement’ across the board. The key findings pointing out flaws which at the time were then being addressed.

The problem was that with funding cuts and moral falling it was a battle that seemed overwhelming. Whatever the reasons over the course of the following years the resulting impact affected everyone.

In the latest report, whilst most of the findings are still resulting in the same result it is when you delve into the details that you see change is afoot and had Ofsted done their inspection a little later in the year then the result would have been extremely different.

Firstly the sixth form has now been given a ‘good’ standing, something unthinkable when you look back only months to see many of them protesting on the streets with their parents.

Then there are the comments about the new headteacher.

“The recent appointment of a permanent headteacher has improved matters significantly”

“The headteacher has improved the school’s culture so that is more aspirational for staff and pupils.”

“Staff agree that the current headteacher has transformed the school.”

And a comment from one teacher shows just how much of an impact Mr Smith is having with Ofsted even publishing their quote, ‘the headteacher is relentlessly positive.’

But it doesn’t stop there. The report even mentions how there has been a transformation of pupils’ behaviour and how the school has now developed an effective personal and social education.

Dr Karen Roberts CEO of The Kemnal Academies Trust said:

“We are pleased that the inspectors recognised that the school is now making rapid improvements under the leadership of the recently appointed Headteacher. We are fully aware that there is much still to be done and the Trust will provide the support needed to ensure the students at Thomas Bennett received a good education.”

But the real test is not with any government inspector. Nor is it with a board of governors or a Trust or even concerned parents. The real test is with the customers themselves. The pupils.

With no direction or interruption from a teacher we were able to speak with pupils from all years in a round table session where we asked for them to speak openly about the school. What happened was startling.

Normally these interviews can be awkward with pupils conscious of a teacher analysing their words. But they can also be a real insight into what the ‘real’ feeling is amongst those most critical of their environment.

There was a real energy, a positivity that empowered you as you listened. There was pride and they wanted to share it.

After hearing their stories of how the school was such a different place last year they were asked to sum why someone should come to Thomas Bennett and to use one word to sum the school up. These are the actual responses from several of those

“The teachings great. Positive”

“You get so many opportunities. Positive”

“The teachings really good, you can make really good friends here even if they are in an older year. You never feel pressured into anything. We have gone through all the negative things and it’s all turning into positive. Fantastic.”

“You can get your voices heard. Trustworthy

“It’s welcoming, everyones kind and nice. Memorable”

“If you have any worries big or small you can always go to a member of staff and they really help you. Understanding

“The school really helps people with all different kinds of issues whether they are mental health or even something like autism. Helpful

All this change in months, not years and without any unnecessary intervention from politicians or councilors.

Mr Smith knows the school is not there yet but it is certainly on its way and he truly believes within 18 months the words ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ will be used by inspectors.

He said:

“This is a very exciting time to be part of Thomas Bennett Community College. The whole community has my absolute reassurance that I am both committed and determined to ensuring that areas requiring improvement are being addressed and the rapid improvement continues. I will also build of the many strengths highlighted in the detail of the report, with the support of staff, students, parents and the Trust we will bring about sustained improvement for the benefit of Thomas Bennett Community College and its community”.

Exciting times it is and none more so than for the pupils themselves. But what comes out of all this more than anything, more than the reports and the PR that accompanies this sort of change is the true belief and support that change is happening and whilst it is fast and dramatic, it is in the description of numerous pupils ‘AMAZING’.

The only way to sum this all up is to leave you with the words of one pupil who said:

“If you want your child to become such an amazing person and to grow then Thomas Bennett is the school for you!”

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