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Sevenoaks Primary School

SevenOaksPrimary School

‘We are all equal and our teachers are all kind’ (Pupil quote)-– Ofsted 2017
Pupils are proud of their school and enthusiastic about their learning-Ofsted 2017
Pupils feel safe and said that they trust there is always an adult they can go to if they feel concerned-Ofsted 2017
Sevenoaks Primary is a fantastic, caring school, where my children blossom and flourish, both academically and emotionally-Parent
We are very proud to say that our children go to Sevenoaks Primary-Parent
Pupils achieve well at this school-Ofsted 2017
Although it is a large school, a real family feel is fostered - it is palpable-Parent

Newbuild FAQs

The Q&A is split in to 5 categories:

1. Background to the new build

Why now - what is wrong with the existing school? 

  • Despite continued maintenance the existing school is no longer fit for purpose and very costly to maintain. The school buildings are from the 1950’s and have many original features including boilers, pipe-work, long corridors, internal steps and crittal windows. Due to the age and poor condition of the buildings, the Local Authority (Kent County Council) put us forward for replacement nearly four years ago. The School was then included in the PSBP (Priority Schools Building Programme) by the Government, as the cost of the required upgrades, estimated at that stage to exceed £1.25 million, placed it within the 250 worst schools in the country.

  • Sevenoaks is a very popular town and with a substantial and growing demand for local primary school places. We are fortunate at Sevenoaks Primary School (SPS) to have a large site with extensive facilities which means, with the appropriate investment, we can meet part of this need.

  • We are working closely with the EFA and KCC to design a new building that will meet the needs of a primary school in the 21st Century. The building will reflect the school ethos and provide enough space to ensure that all teaching and learning and additional activities continue to flourish.

  • We believe the new building will be an outstanding, modern facility for the education and wellbeing of our children.

Who is the team behind the project?

  • We are lucky at SPS to have an exceptional team,  an outstanding Governing Body and supportive and involved parents. We are committed to see this project through and to ensure that we continue to develop the school.

Why is it taking time?

  • The discussions have taken time as we are working with the EFA and KCC to produce a solution that is right for SPS and goes beyond what we might have been able to achieve if we accepted the original proposal. Our key objective is to get a new school building that is ideal for our needs and reflects the ethos of our school community.  Getting it right is worth the time and effort that has already been put in by Mr Duffy, staff, governors, parents and friends of the school.

How much is the whole thing costing and what is the fundraising contribution

  • The outline budget is £5.4m of which we are looking to raise an additional £477k.

How many children will it accommodate?

  • The new build will be a three-form entry school with a maximum of 630 pupils.

How big will the school be?

  • With our additional fundraising, the new building will have approximately the same internal space as the existing building, and will be larger than a standard 3FE schools.

What phase are we currently in?

  • We are moving from the initial planning to the design phase. This is likely to start in the next four to five months and will be a relatively short phase, around six weeks. At which point we will have a short timeframe to communicate drawings and plans for feedback.  The school will be actively engaged in the design process.

When will the building work start?

  • This depends on the planning and tendering processes. However the provisional date is early in 2016.

How long will it take? 

  • It is still too early to provide any specific details regarding the timetable for the actual build, however we expect the work to commence during 2016, with completion in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2017. We have been advised to expect that the build, including demolition of the existing school and creation of play space will take approximately one year.

When will the old school be knocked down?

  • The existing building will be demolished after the new one has been built and the children have moved into the new facilities.

2. Outline of the new build

What will the new school look like and where will it be located?

  • The design and final location of the school will take place in the design phase, which is due to start shortly. SPS will have input to this and have already inputted to the internal layout.

How will the new school building improve SPS? 

  • We have a fantastic opportunity to create new state-of-the facilities for the education and wellbeing of our children, as well as future generations and the wider Sevenoaks community. This will provide the ideal base for SPS to continue to develop.

  • It will provide a new modern and sustainable building with a greatly enhanced environment for the children (climate control, no draughts, easier access) and lower running costs.

What facilities will the new build have? 

  • We are working with the EFA, KCC and are fundraising (see fundraising section) to ensure the school will be at least the same size as the current one (which itself is much larger than the current government recommendation for a primary school). This will allow us to retain the provision that we currently have to provide a high quality-teaching environment, support our extended school agenda and the local community.

  • We have also agreed with the EFA and KCC that we will retain two dedicated ICT suites and the kids' kitchen, all of which are over and above standard specification.

  • The fundraising will add to the school and allow us to:

    • Significantly extend the main hall (to match our current main hall) to support the numerous and very popular extra-curricular activities, sports, performances, assemblies and the varied community use of the space.
    • Increase the size of the dining hall (to match our current dining hall) to cater for the increased numbers enjoying our fantastic lunches and to provide a base for the breakfast and after school club.
    • The introduction of shared teaching areas to provide varied teaching spaces to enhance the learning environment.

How will the new build work with the school site?

  • The current buildings are spread over a large area. The most likely plan for the new main building will be a two-storey construction. Such a design will actually serve to open up the site and give the perception of greater space.

  • Mr Duffy (headteacher), Mrs Wood (Bursar) and Trevor Thake (Governor), visited one of the first three form entry (3fe) schools to be completed as part of the programme. The school was well designed, an improvement on our current building and certainly did not appear any bigger on the site.

  • The school have spent considerable time with the EFA and KCC ensuring that the new building meets our requirements. We would not be undertaking this project if we did not believe it was the best solution for SPS.

  • The size will bring with it opportunities and the new layout will make it much easier to manage and improve accessibility and movement through the school.

Why are you proposing to keep the modular classrooms?  

  • In simple terms, we are keeping them to increase the size of the school and provide greater facilities for all the children. They have been assessed and are in good condition and have a life expectancy in excess of 30 years. 

  • Whilst the new build Mr Duffy visited in Coventry was a fantastic resource, SPS has always prided itself on being able to offer significantly more than the average primary school. To enable the school to continue with its exciting and creative curriculum and the extensive range of extra-curricular activities, we need to ensure we have enough space and retaining the modular classrooms is part of this. With their purpose built play area they have proved to be a very effective phase one (Foundation and Year 1) teaching facility and will continue to provide invaluable classroom space.

Which classes or years are going to be separate from the main building?

  • The eventual use of the modular buildings is still under discussion with staff and KCC. However, ideas include using this area for Reception and Year One to develop our early years provision.  They will be linked with the main building via a covered walkway and therefore remain an integrated part of the new buildings.

Will the parent body have an opportunity to input/feedback on the proposed design plans for the school?

  • The building design is driven by the EFA and chosen contract architects. The school has already had significant input into the initial accommodation needs and will continue to work with the architects on internal designs.  We will use existing parental communication channels such as the parent council to share designs as they evolve.

How will it benefit the wider community?

  • The ethos of SPS is very much community based and we are used by many different groups and clubs each week. Our extensive discussions with the EFA and KCC have been in part to ensure our new building and improved facilities will continue to be available to local groups and we hope our community links and reputation will be enhanced.


3. Our fundraising for the new build

Why do we need to raise funds?

  • Government funding for the project is formula driven to meet what it calls basic needs.  The plans would therefore have meant any new building would have been smaller than what we currently have, which is already larger than current guidelines. We therefore decided to raise funds to ensure we maximise the opportunity for our existing, and future children.  

  • Fundraising will allow the school to increase the proposed new main and dining halls to match their current size (both of the existing halls are larger than current guidelines as originally built to accommodate secondary children). The original plan, based on existing primary school guidelines, meant they would have been significantly smaller which would impact what we can offer in terms of school and wider activities.

  • Specifically, the fundraising will allow us to:

    • Significantly extend the main hall (to match our current main hall) to support the numerous and very popular extra-curricular activities, sports, performances, assemblies and the varied community use of the space

    • Increase the size of the dining hall (to match our current dining hall) to cater for the increased numbers enjoying our lunches and to provide a base for the Breakfast and After School Club

    • Introduce shared teaching areas to provide varied teaching spaces to enhance the learning environment.

What fundraising activities are planned / underway?

  • The SPSA has arranged a wide calendar of fundraising events to appeal to a large number of parents and children, and we hope this gives families an opportunity to participate in school social activities and gain something fun & rewarding out of the fundraising events.

  • The fundraising team, comprising of members of the SPSA and Governing body, are also exploring potential opportunities with external parties. The team are approaching local businesses for sponsorship of SPSA events, or donations in return for an incentive. The team have also been looking at applying for grants with Charitable trusts and similar organisations.

Will current pupils benefit from money raised this school calendar year?

  • SPSA are still funding current activities in this school calendar year. Whilst these vary by year examples include: Premier Sport activities, Sports Leader, free water bottles for all children, 100% Attendance awards, Hats for children to wear at external events, materials for clubs.

  • The SPSA is committed to current projects that benefit all the children across all year groups. Current funding includes donations to the Tennis club and Chess club, providing a First Aid course for all Year 6 children, and supporting the Year 6 Leavers' Disco and presenting all children with a Leavers’ Book. SPSA continually receive requests for funding of current activities, and is committed to support these as and when the need arises.

Why are we being asked to contribute?

  • There is no pressure at all to donate. All support and contributions from our community, either time or financial, however small will be gratefully received. The SPSA’s remit is to develop a varied programme of events and activities for families to participate in and have fun, with the added bonus that these may raise funds to help the cause! 

  • We have invited direct contributions via the New Build fund, as some families may feel willing and able to contribute to this exciting project.  

  • We have highlighted how these donations can be boosted by Gift Aid, Employer matching schemes and Give as you Earn as these are valuable ways of increasing the value of your generous gifts.

  • We have been extremely fortunate to have already secured substantial match funding for the appeal from the Hands Trust. This means that the value of monies raised will be doubled by this very generous local benefactor. 

4. The existing school during the building phase

What impact will there be on the children and their learning during the building work?

  • We will work closely with the contractor to minimise any disruption. We are also very fortunate to have such large grounds and the top playing field to continue using for sports and clubs etc.

  • When we visited a newly built school in Coventry, their situation was very similar to ours. They explained that their new building was completed whilst the children remained in the existing school. The disruption to the day to day operation of the school was minimal.

My child is in year 4 – 6. How will they benefit?

  • The ethos of SPS is about the community, as well as the existing children. Therefore whilst the older children may not benefit directly from being taught in the new building, we would hope they continue to benefit from what the school offers to the wider community.

  • Throughout the build period we will continue to focus on every child and ensure that they meet their potential and enjoy their time at primary school. We will minimise disruption for all pupils by working closely with the contractors on a day-to-day basis.

How much disruption will it cause to local residents? 

  • As with any new building, some disruption is inevitable, however we will work with the contractors and involve the local residents as appropriate to minimise this as much as practical.  At the information evening the EFA outlined that this was governed by strict controls & would have to be outlined in the planning application.

How will it impact traffic flow and parking?

  • The contractors will have to manage deliveries etc. We recognise that with two popular schools, a pre-school & nursery in close proximity & limited parking there are traffic challenges. We have been proactive in tackling these.  The parent council has devised the School Travel Plan and Mr Duffy has had meetings with the local councillor, Margaret Crabtree, and the local residents' associations to find solutions.

  • Where the contractors will park will be addressed as part of the programme to ensure the safety of children, parents, staff and local residents.

How will it impact the green space?

  • The amount of green space and play areas will remain the same. However it will be moved around the site to accommodate the new building.

How will it impact access to clubs / capacity constraints - Community use

  • We will be creative to ensure that disruption to our offer is minimised

  • We do not anticipate any reduction of community use during the building phase.

How will this affect the day to day activities of the school, e.g. school drop off, playtime, PE activities, access to pre-school, Acorns.

  • Once we have firm details of the timescales, we will work with the contractors to ensure safe access to the site for school drop off and also access to Bradbourne Pre-school and Acorns.

  • Due to our extensive grounds, we do not foresee any problems with playtime and PE activities.  The children may get a little more muddy if they are playing on grass rather than a playground.  This will mainly affect children who use the KS2 playground, as the Foundation and KS1 playgrounds will not be affected during the build phase.

5. Keeping everyone informed

How do I keep up with the latest details and updates?

  • The website will be used to keep the community informed of progress and developments. It will incorporate a FAQ section and will be regularly updated.

How do I raise any questions or concerns?

  • We have set up a dedicated email address for questions about the new build / redevelopment. Mrs Malone and the team will collate these and try to answer them in the newsletters.  We will not always have all the answers and there will be more details as the project develops. However we will always answer what we can and be as transparent as possible.

Please send your emails to:

How are you keeping the children informed?

  • As well as getting them involved in sketch up – we will keep them informed and aware of what it means in terms of day to day activities.