Positive Growth – Sittingbourne Community College
Kent County Council have identified a shortage of Secondary school places within the County, with Swale being hit as early as 2017. As a result Sittingbourne Community College is to see a £6 million extension to accommodate a further 60 students.
Over the last few years, numbers attending local Primary schools have increased. This is down to the growing populous and the rapid growth in housing throughout Swale. Pupils are now coming through the system and looking for places in good Secondary schools.ARTIST IMPRESSION – NEW TEACHING BUILDING FROM DINING AREA
The growing popularity of Sittingbourne Community College has been secured by changing public perception of the school over the last three years and has the December 2013 Ofsted as its turning point. Before that event occurred the school was suffering from falling pupil numbers in a number of year groups but since 2014 they have seen vast numbers of casual admission applications boosting particular year groups and Year 6 into 7 applications rising considerably.
This has been further augmented by the planned increase in pupil numbers in the town, caused by the changing demographic, and in the summer of 2015 the College was contacted by KCC about a possible building expansion to help house these students. With the other high schools in Sittingbourne already at full capacity in terms of buildings on their sites, the College was a natural choice, with the additional benefit of their growing pupil numbers being a happy coincidence.
KCC see this expansion project and many others throughout the County as securing their ambition to “ensure that Kent’s young people have access to the education, work and skills opportunities necessary to support Kent business to grow and be increasingly competitive in the national and international economy.” School growth is part of this wider ambition.
The permanent expansion of Sittingbourne Community College will see their PAN increase from 210 to 270, adding 60 Year 7 places from September 2017 and subsequent years, taking the total capacity of the school from 1050 to 1350.
Countless meetings and exercises have been completed to ensure the schools readiness for this building project which will take place during the next academic year. There has been considerable shifting and adjustment of the plans but the major undertaking will be the building of a three-storey ‘super block’ which, when adjoining an existing block, is intended to house two of the three core subject areas, hopefully in their entirety. This will enable one of their existing blocks to house the majority, if not all, of the science classrooms, in one suited space. Furthermore, the existing reception and administration block will become two storeys and provide a grander entrance point for the majority of visitors. The school is also looking at extending their current covered eating areas to ensure that the planned rise in pupil numbers, which will go up to an additional sixty students per year group, will be housed comfortably during unstructured times as well as during lessons.
Fiona Trigwell, Headteacher, “The quality of design has been impressive with an attention to detail that has been focused on ensuring that these building neither disrupt or stand out from the existing campus. There is a clear sense of excitement amongst the staff, who are looking forward to having a brighter and more modern set of facilities, having had to ‘mend and make do’ for some time.”
“Whilst support from the local community was by no means overwhelming, or guaranteed, the great success of the consultation evening was the announcement of a change to vehicular access, with the proposed entrance for coaches, buses and taxis coming in via the A2, and ensuring that Swanstree Avenue will not only avoid being further burdened by excessive traffic difficulties, but will actually be an improvement on the current system, which is already a cause for concern for many local residents and interested groups. We are looking forward to the start of buildings work and a time when we can proudly show everyone the next stage of the development of Sittingbourne Community College.”SITE PLAN OF PROPOSED EXTENSION
Date for completion is set to be Summer 2017.