Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Kings Hill – “The Total Life Experience” – Really?

The portrayal by Liberty Property Trust UK of life in Kings Hill paints an idyllic scene where private residents and commercial businesses can flourish, boasting how they have transformed a former West Malling airfield into one of the “largest and most successful mixed-use developments in Europe”

See for yourself, the promotional website for Kings Hill http://www.kings-hill.com/kent-properties describes it as an established community that “has grown into a thriving, 'complete' village with a mix of homes, employment, retail, education, sports and leisure facilities”

For the most part, this is true; Kings Hill does provide a prosperous community for both private and commercial residents, and is nestled amongst stunning Kent countryside with excellent transport links. But where we feel they are seriously missing the point, and miss-selling to any would-be new buyers, is in regards to the provision of schools for Kings Hill Children.

Watch the promotional video on the home page and as the sun rises over a perfect sunny day, residents walk to work and a father, walks his children to the local school.
Sadly this cannot be the case for many children living in Kings Hill and with a confirmed development of an expansion of new homes; the number of children forced in to schools outside their community will increase unless the provision of a new school is made.

This number of children living in Kings Hill that did not get a place in one of the Kings Hill Schools has risen from 6 in 2011 to 17 in 2012 (these figures are from KCC) and with the expanding developments this will become more serious and the surrounding schools will also become even more over-subscribed.  KCC and Liberty Property Trust UK need to stop building until they can provide the required facilities for the local residents as promised in their promotional materials.

With around 400 new home expected in the next phase of building in Kings Hill and another 700 homes being built in the local vicinity we are petitioning for a new school to be built in Kings Hill and not to keep expanding the already oversubscribed classrooms of the two existing primary schools.

We would like some answers to what will Liberty Property Trust UK and KCC do to overcome this growing problem as they are in partnership.

Voice Your Concern - Meet Liberty Property Trust


Liberty Property Trust are holding a Public Consultation on Thursday 6th September 2012 at Kingshill Community Centre, 70 Gibson Drive, Kingshill, ME19 4LG

Open sessions to be held:
10:00 - 13.00 hours
17:00 – 20: 00 hours

The Working Party members will be attending these sessions to voice our concern regarding the lack of commitment to provide additional schooling for the ever increasing dwellings being developed.

We ask that any concerned parents or community members join us in doing the same. We are collecting signatures from those who support our campaign for new schools to be built in Kings Hill. Please sign up here

Many thanks
Working Party Kings Hill

Thursday, 5 July 2012

When School Sums Don’t Add Up…

When our concerns were initially raised regarding the lack of school places for the children of Kings Hill at The Parish Council meeting earlier this year, an attending Kent County Councillor announced figures for what he believed to be the total sum of those who did not get a place, and maybe at first glance these would seem small in relation to those that had applied.  At this meeting we were told that the number of children who were not offered a KingsHill or Discovery School place, living in Kings Hill was a total of 8, but with the petition we had already started; our figures superseded that, with us having a total of 11 signatures to date. 
There was an admission that there had been a mis-judgement in regards to the high birth rate in the community and so this could be one of the reasons why our children were suffering the consequences of that mis-calculation.  But the figures announced at that meeting in comparison to the number of signatures we had collected from those parents whose children were rejected, did not add up.

Following this, the working party contacted Kent County Council and under The Freedom of Information Act, requested recorded figures for the last two years, here is that response below:

“On Offer Day 2011, 6 pupils living in addresses with a postcode beginning ME19 4 were not offered either KingsHill School or Discovery Primary School after naming at least one of them as a preference unless they were offered a higher preference outside of the KingsHill area.

 On Offer Day 2012, 17 pupils living in addresses with a postcode beginning ME19 4 were not offered either KingsHill School or Discovery Primary School after naming at least one of them as a preference unless they were offered a higher preference outside of the KingsHill area.”

Ok, so at the parish council meeting we were told 8, the Working Party has the number of 11 via our petition and KCC are now giving us the figure of 17? The plot thickens!
More worryingly is the dramatic jump in those numbers received from KCC. Don’t forget this is not a steady increase over a number of years; it went from 6 - 17 in just one year!
Obviously this does not take into account those parents who did not even attempt to apply for a place in a KingsHill School. We heard from some parents at that first parish council meeting who fall into this category.  They knew of the problem already and decided that applying for Non-Kings Hill Schools, would better their chances in being given a 1st or 2nd choice and therefore opted out of the primary school place lottery.    

What were the catchment areas this year?

With some of the parents we know of seemingly living so close to their chosen school but still being rejected, we wanted to know this year’s current figures for the distances of the ‘last child accepted’
These are the figures from Kent County Council

Discovery: 90 places - 2 by looked after children, 42 siblings

Last child accepted:  0.4593 miles

KingsHill: 60 places - 23 siblings,

Last child accepted 0.3677 miles

We believe the distance for Discovery has got smaller and this will be due to the new developments near the Discovery School. The distance for KingsHill School still remains roughly the same but when they finish the new builds near Asda that will surely have a noticeable impact on the distance of the last child.

Where are we going to be in 2013 with the prospect of another 400 new homes being built on the existing KingsHill development phase? Some of the rejected families we know of live within 0.2 of a mile from the Kings Hill schools and still didn’t get a place.  Add into that factor, siblings in the next intake who will get priority, the birth rate of any given year, new children moving into the area with existing homes being purchased and any number of children moving into those 400 new homes.

Want to get in touch?

If you are sympathetic to our concerns our would like to show your support in anyway,
Please get in touch:
Contact us via our newsletter sign up,
Join us on our Facebook Page or
Follow us on Twitter @SchoolKingsHill
We are grateful for all the help and support we can get.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Primary School Crisis

The Kings Hill School problem is not an isolated case, as can be seen from various plights highlighted in the national press and local gazettes around the country. Government ministers have been urged to take the primary school crisis far more seriously than has seemingly being done so up to this point. Parents and local MP’s - including the current Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Stephen Twigg – have all voiced their concerns for the wellbeing of our children’s education.  
Two interesting articles that highlight this issue and are worth reading include:
Education InvestorEI article: "Twigg: Primary schools crisis means schools secretary is “failing”

And more recently the Oxford Mail writes about the serious shortages of primary school places within their county:  “Warning on new school place crisis”
The Kings Hill Working Party was formed to collectively voice the growing concern for the primary school crisis within Kings Hill, Kent.  Kings Hill is a rapidly growing, young family orientated community.  An expected 400 houses are yet to be built, and we don’t believe the development of new houses will stop there.  This will surely only compound the already severe shortage of primary school places made available to the existing children living in the community.  Read more about The Kings Hill Working Party and how you can help us.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Dear Kings Hill Parents...

Primary School Place Crisis, it's a lottery and we feel it is only going to get worse unless the situation affecting our children is taken seriously. 

Last year when we were visiting the Kings Hill Schools on their open days we were assured by both schools that there would not be a problem this year for any child that lives on Kings Hill not getting a place at a Kings Hill School. This has clearly not turned out to be the case as there are a number of children reaching in to double figures who didn’t get a place on Kings Hill or any of their three choices. Leaving families forced to travel great distances and children isolated from their community.

Some of these Families live within 0.2 of a mile from the schools and still didn’t get a place, as it’s so very hard to predict how many place that will be available due to the number of siblings that will get priority or the birth rate in any given year.

There are 400 new homes to still be built on Kings Hill of the existing development phase and Kent county council have just agreed another 1500 homes to be built in the future. Both of the Kings Hill primary Schools have now reached full capacity.

As the new homes being built are around the Discovery school, this will have a big impact on families that already live on Kings Hill. The new people that move in to this new area will then take priority over those other children that have lived on Kings Hill for some time. We feel that this is very unfair. This will then have a knock on effect for other areas in Kings Hill, as those children that would have gotten in to the Discovery School (before the 400 extra homes are to be built), will then get pushed in to the Kings Hill School. This then narrows the entry radius of those Children that live near Kings Hill School who will be able to get in to this School. There are no guarantees that any child will be able to get in to a Kings Hill School in the future, and we feel the scale of the problem is underestimated by parents.

This situation will not get any better and appears to be getting worse. Kent County Council have underestimated the need for primary school places on Kings Hill because it doesn’t fit the normal demographic for residential developments of this type.
Kings Hill has much younger demographic and as such a much higher birth rate.

If you are concerned about this issue then I urge you to signs the petition currently in the Foyer of Nursery on the Hill.

Want to get involved?

We are also setting up a working party to take this issue further.  If any one could help us and wishes to join the working party, or even just has a useful skill/expertise that the working party can call upon you for, then please let us know.

Help raise awareness of Kings Hill Primary School Problems.
If you believe your child has the right to be a part of their community and have the opportunity to be schooled in Kings Hill, get in touch and show your support.

You can contact us on the facebook site
or follow us on Twitter @SchoolKingsHill
and we are grateful for all the help and support we can get.

Many Thanks

The Working Party for Kings Hill Primary School Problems.