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Will St Peter's School in Tunbridge Wells have room for children from St Peter's?

By Alan Smith

Would-be home-purchasers can often be misled by the details proffered by estate agents into thinking they have a chance of getting their child into a school which realistically is unavailable to them.

So says Felicity Leslie, a primary school teacher in the Tunbridge Wells area for 23 years.

She said: "I often see posts on social media from parents asking which is the good school in the area. They don't seem to understand that if they don't meet the criteria, their child will not get in."

The existing St Peter's school in Windmill Street
The existing St Peter's school in Windmill Street

Although most schools make exceptions for siblings of children already at the school, and for children in care, the basic determining factor is the distance from home to the school.

Mrs Leslie said that she had recently seen an advert for a home for sale in Benhall Mill Road, Tunbridge Wells, listing local schools as Claremont Primary and St Peter's CEP School.

But she said: "They are approximately 0.6 miles away, and unfortunately even in 2017 a child had to live within 0.223 miles to get into Claremont and 0.523 miles for St Peter's.

"Today, I'm sure it would be less."

Mrs Leslie lives in St Peter's Street, close by St Peter's Church and St Peter's Primary.

An artist's impression of the new school St Peter's School under construction at Hawkenbury
An artist's impression of the new school St Peter's School under construction at Hawkenbury

There are plans afoot for the school to be replaced by a new school a mile away at Hawkenbury Farm. The school will open first as a one-form entry and will replace the existing building in Windmill Street. It will later be expanded to a two-form entry to take the children expected to arrive with the 235-home estate being built alongside it.

Mrs Leslie said: "The irony is that after a few years, because of the distance criteria, even with the expansion to two-form entry, probably no child from the St Peter's area will be able to get into St Peter's School."

A KCC spokesman said for this year's school place national offer day, the home-to-school distance of the last successful applicant to St Peter’s, where distance was used to prioritise this last place, was 0.6 miles.

The spokesman confirmed that the school currently uses the standard KCC admissions criteria, but couldn't conform that it would continue to do so once the new school had opened, as that was a decision for school governors.

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