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Marden Primary Academy to receive £3.5m expansion due to housing and population growth in Marden and Staplehurst
A village primary school is to receive £3.5 million to expand in an area which has seen significant housing and population growth.
Marden Primary Academy will see its admission numbers increase by 15 pupils to 60 from September next year.
The school, which recently appointed Hannah Penning as principal and is rated overall by education watchdog Ofsted as “good” with three “outstanding” features, will expand by about 105 places over time.
Marden Primary Academy, with a roll of 285 currently, is part of the Leigh Academies’ Trust (LAT).
Kent County Council (KCC) has allocated £3,541,411 to fund the expansion.
“In recent years, we have seen a lot of housing growth in the Marden and Staplehurst catchment areas…”
Conservative county councillor Lottie Parfitt-Reid said: “I am delighted at the news we are to get the expansion.
“In recent years, we have seen a lot of housing growth in the Marden and Staplehurst catchment areas.
“So the need for more places was driven by the demand – simple as that. We had a situation of parents not being able to get a place for their child.
“I know. I have been that mother crying in the headmaster’s office because I can’t get my child in somewhere.”
The KCC member for Maidstone Rural South added: “I was particularly delighted because of the budgetary pressures there are on KCC at the moment. I had to push and push to get it.”
KCC papers state: ”KCC has identified the need for additional places within the Marden and Staplehurst Planning Group, with forecasts indicating a deficit of 21 places in 2024 .
“It has therefore been agreed with Leigh Academies’ Trust (LAT) to permanently expand Marden Primary Academy’s PAN (published admission number) from 45 to 60 places from September 2024.
”Marden Primary Academy joined LAT in 2020. LAT is one of the country’s largest and most-established multi-academy trusts operating across Kent, Medway and South East London. It contains primary, secondary and special academies and is highly inclusive and successful.
”Marden has traditionally been popular with parents and this popularity continued to be demonstrated in the recent primary school preferences, with the academy receiving 39 first preferences and 73 preferences in total for its PAN of 45 places.
“The expansion works will improve the class structure of the school, removing the need for mixed-age classes.
“The works will entail both internal re-configuring of the existing accommodation and the construction of a new teaching block to the rear of the school. KCC has agreed with LAT that the trust will manage the construction.”
The school was inspected earlier this year, when Ofsted inspectors noted: “Governors and leaders at all levels have worked tirelessly to ensure that the school has experienced substantial and positive change.
“They have a clear and shared vision for the future of the school and a commitment to continued improvement. Staff are part of a close-knit team and feel valued by leaders, who invest greatly in their development.”