News Blog


Posted on: 19th Jul 2021

Kent based school gets green light for rebuild following campaign by local MP

  • Orchards Academy has successfully secured funding to be rebuilt as part of the School Rebuilding Programme announced in 2020
  • Local MP Laura Trott has been instrumental in the yearlong campaign for the school to be rebuilt

Orchards Academy, based in Sevenoaks, has successfully secured funding to be rebuilt as part of the School Rebuilding Programme, which was announced by the Government in 2020.

The news marks the end of a yearlong campaign led by the local MP Laura Trott alongside Kent County Councillor Perry Cole, Swanley Town Council Leader (and local St Mary’s ward member) Michael Horwood, local district council member for St Mary’s Lesley Dyball and The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT). This included meetings with the Prime Minister and Education Secretary as well as a petition with 1,333 signatures presented to the House of Commons. 

Orchards Academy originally opened in 1958 as Swanley Comprehensive school.  In November 2010 it became part of The Kemnal Academies Trust. Natalie Willbourn became Headteacher in 2013, since when it has been one of the most improved schools in the country and is rated as good by OfSTED.  The buildings date back to the 1960s, since when they have had little capital investment.

The School Rebuilding Programme, announced in June 2020, is part of an ambitious ten-year programme that will transform 500 school buildings across England, so every child has access to the best learning environment. Backed by £1 billion in government funding, the programme will rebuild and repair primary, secondary, specialist as well as sixth form colleges around England, with the majority of these projects expected to be completed within three to five years.

Speaking following the announcement, Laura Trott MP said:

“I am delighted. I know from my visits just how urgently repair is needed, and it has been wonderful to see the local community truly getting behind this campaign. The pupils and teachers of this school deserve a safe and inspiring building in which to learn; I am over the moon the Government has listened to our campaign and will rebuild Orchards Academy.”

Natalie Willbourn, Executive Headteacher at Orchards Academy said:

“This is wonderful news, the prospect of replacing our tired old buildings with a new school is so exciting. Being able to learn and work in modern, state-of-the-art, well-built buildings will be transformational.  We are all proud of our school, now we will be able to be proud of the buildings too.  On behalf of the pupils, parents, staff and Governors I would like to thank the Kemnal Academies Trust and Laura Trott MP  for their successful campaign.”

Dr Karen Roberts CEO of the Kemnal Academies Trust commented,

“This fantastic news means we will be able to focus on making the educational experience of the pupils even better.  We all recognise the importance of a high-quality learning environment for the wellbeing and success of both our pupils and staff. The Swanley community will get the school buildings it needs and deserves. We are most grateful for the active and tireless support that Laura Trott MP has brought to the campaign for this rebuild.”

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