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Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge now accepting applications for service helping pupils who have struggled with their studies

A school which supports youngsters who find busy mainstream classrooms too overwhelming is about to expand to offer help to more children.

Since September, 14 students have been able to improve their prospects and begin to focus on their education in a Grade II listed Georgian house in Tonbridge, run as a satellite provision by Hillview School For Girls.

Bordyke End in Tonbridge which has become a centre for helping pupils who struggle in busier mainstream schools
Bordyke End in Tonbridge which has become a centre for helping pupils who struggle in busier mainstream schools

Now, after a delay caused by the pandemic, Hillview will be able to take around another 55 students, aged 16 and upwards, from across west Kent, who do not meet the criteria for A-levels and who find college is not the right setting.

It will also help some re-take GCSEs or sit new ones.

Head teacher Hilary Burkett explained their satellite site, at Bordyke End, currently looks after 14 and 15-year-old 'school refusers,' those children who find the busy surroundings of a crowded mainstream school, such as Hillview with its 1,378 pupils, too difficult to cope with.

Typically they do not engage with lessons and very often play truant. The current set of students at the service - called Viewpoint - have transferred from schools in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks.

The second stage on the satellite site, for those aged 16 and upwards, will be called TheView@EastSt

Hillview head teacher Hilary Burkett
Hillview head teacher Hilary Burkett

Mrs Burkett said: "We are looking to meet a gap in the education system."

She said typically to stay on in the sixth form children have to have completed five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including maths and English. Those who don't manage that can currently seek vocational courses at a college, but often find they have to specialise at once, which they are not always ready to do.

She said: "The academic strand at TheView@EastSt will assist students to re-sit their GCSEs, or sit new ones, and improve their maths and English grades, so that they can apply to sixth form or college if they chose to."

Again it is expected that the small class sizes and individual study programmes at TheView@EastSt will help students who have struggled at school, perhaps because they have missed classes through ill health.

A second strand of provision at the centre will help other students who are not quite ready for an apprenticeship to enter the world of work. They will study for two or three days at the centre, and spend the others days with an employer.

One of the classrooms at the new building
One of the classrooms at the new building

It is expected students will spend a year at the centre, but that could be extended as each programme will be fashioned to the individual student. Mrs Burkett promised: "We will ensure they have something to move on to."

The building was previously the headquarters of Millwood Designer Homes.

Students who are interested in studying at TheView@EastSt are now able to apply for a place via the Kent Choices website and can access information on the provision on offer here

Read more: All the latest news from Tonbridge

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