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Tunbridge Wells Primary Schools

Updated May 2020
Coronavirus; There are a number of articles on this site exploring the implications of the pandemic on school applications and appeals. You will find them by putting 'Coronavirus' in the search engine on the top left hand corner of this page. This page contains outcomes of Ofsted Inspections carried out up until 4th February 2020, the last ones published before schools were closed. I estimate about another 10 will have been completed but results are waiting until schools are opened, which may not be until September. I think it most unlikely there will be any more this school year.  

Entries on this page include the OFSTED Grade for each Primary School updated twice a year, also recording change from previous Inspection result, together with some other relevant information below. It is worth using the search engine on the Home Page to pick up other references to individual schools.

You will find advice on Primary school Admissions and Appeals here

You can read the full Report on each Primary School at OFSTED. Each school is awarded a main Grade: Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement (previously Satisfactory), and Inadequate (two sub categories - A school that has serious weaknesses is inadequate overall and requires significant improvement but leadership and management are judged to be Grade 3 or better - A school that requires special measures is one where the school is failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education and the school’s leaders, managers or governors have not demonstrated that they have the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school). Each Report carries a brief description of the school before justifying its decision in more detail. If a school is in Special Measures or Serious Weaknesses, the results of further monitoring visits are noted.

A majority of the schools that have previously had a 'Good' or 'Outstanding' assessment are given a Short Inspection (known as Section 8). These are indicated by 'Good (S). These will be confirmed in their assessment grade. However for some of these schools, the Inspection Team may consider that there are concerns, or in the case of a Good school, grounds for raising the Grade and this can only be done by a full Section Five Grade. These are recorded for example as  'Outstanding (SC) or 'Good (SR). 

You will find an analysis of oversubscription and vacancies for  Tunbridge Wells Primary Places for September 2019 Allocations here, for 2018 here, for 2017 here, and for 2016 here.

You will find a good website to provide a host of factual data about individual Kent schools here.

Reports on Inspections between between September 2019 and February 2020  are in the first table, followed by other tables containing older ones.

(A) Indicates the school is an Academy (2017 onwards)  


OFSTED REPORTS Sep 19 - Feb 20


Date Change
Rusthall St Paul's CofE Good (SC) Jan 20
Concern so
Section 5 to follow
Temple Grove (A) Good Sep 19 Up one
OFSTED REPORTS Sep 18 - Jul 19


Date Change
Pembury  Good (S) Mar 19 No change
St Barnabas CofE VA Good (S) Oct 18 No change
Skinners' Kent Primary (A)
Sep 18 
1st Inspection 
Wells Free Good (S) Jun 19 No change




Date Change
Broadwater Down Good Nov 17 No change
St John's CofE Infant
Nov 17 
No change 
St Matthew's High Brooms CofE Good Jul 18  No change
Southborough CofE Good Jun 18 No change




Date Change
Bidborough CofE VC Good Jul 17 No change
Lamberhurst St Mary's CofE VC Good Jul 17 No change
Jan 17 
No change 
Bishops Down Primary Good Feb 17 No change
Temple Grove Academy Requires Improvement Apr 17 No change




Date Change
Fordcombe CofE Good Feb 16 Up one
Rusthall St Paul's CofE VA Good Jun 16 Up one
St Augustine's Catholic Good Nov 15 Up one

Excerpt from TW Section of article on Oversubscription and Vacancies in Kent Primary Schools 2015: "Just 29 places free at two schools, 3% of the total, 23 being at Rusthall St Paul’s CofE. The other 6 are at the new Skinners Kent Primary Academy, which has also had nine children allocated. " 




Date Change
St Barnabas CofE VA Good Nov 14 No change
Pembury Good Feb 15 No change
Temple Grove Academy  Requires Improvement  Feb 15  Up one
Wells Free   Good  Jun 15  1st Insp

Information from Oversubscription Survey of Kent primary schools, for entry September 2014.

Tunbridge Wells is usually the eye of the storm, but the situation has eased this year, even though several schools have actually reduced intake. The controversial plan to expand Bishops Down Primary from 30 to 60 places was once again reversed, this time by governors frustrated by KCC’s inability to sort out the problems,  and with Claremont School again taking just 60 children instead of the 90 in 2012, there is a much higher proportion of siblings than normal offered places in both schools, so non-siblings have lost out. Even though Claremont turned away 30 first choices, this is surprisingly a fall from last year’s 45 when it was the fifth most oversubscribed school in Kent. Pembury and St Matthew’s High Brooms CofE have both reduced their intakes by 30 down to 60 children. Most oversubscribed schools are St John’s CofE and St James CofE, the Wells Free School, in its second year with an intake of just 24 in fifth place with 20 first choices turned away. Even though there are four schools with vacancies, 71 children were allocated to schools they did not apply for, with nearly half of these going to Temple Grove Academy, showing it has not yet lost the mantle of its previous name, Sherwood Park.



Date Change
Rusthall St Paul's CofE VA

Requires Improvement

Mar 14 No change
St Matthew's High Brooms CE VA

Good Progress from SM

Nov 13

Reasonable Progress from SM

Mar 14


Jul 14 Up two
St Peter's CofE


Mar 14 Up one


Mar 14 No change
Speldhurst CofE


Feb 14 Up one

2012-2013 Reports



Date Change
Bidborough CofE VC Good Jul 13 No change
Broadwater Down Good Feb 13 Up one
Lamberhurst St Mary's CofE Good May 13 No change
St John's CofE Good Feb 13 No change
St Mark's CofE Good May 13 Up one
St Matthew's High Brooms CofE VC Special Measures Jun 13 Down one

Pre September 2012 Reports

School Grade Date Comments
Bishops Down Primary Good Mar 2012
Broadwater Down Primary Satisfactory Mar 2011
Fordcombe CofE Primary Satisfactory Dec 11
Langton Primary Outstanding Jun 2012
Pembury Good Jul 2010
Rusthall St Pauls CofE VA Primary Satisfactory Jun 2012
St Barnabas CofE VA Primary Good May 2010
St Marks CofE Primary Satisfactory Feb 2011
St Matthew's High Brooms CofE Primary Satisfactory Nov 2011

Sherwood Park

Special Measures Jun 12

See articles on Tunbridge Wells Primary Schools and Bishops Down

Pressures on Tunbridge Wells Primary Schools for 2012 Entry (written March 2012)

have written various articles on the mounting problems with primary school provision, in Tunbridge Wells and West Kent, the most recent being here.  although this details the proposed new Free School, it also outlines issues from previous years. Although there are some 25 fewer children looking for places this year, KCC has seen fit to reduce provision by 20 places  to match, presumably assuming that this will keep problems no worse than last year.

After primary school placements were released on March 30, Tunbridge Wells primary schools had just 16 places left free out of the 920 available in Reception classes for September 2012, and 75 children having none of their choices. 15 of those 16 places are at Pembury School, out of town and across the A21, and only exist as its capacity was expanded by 30 at short notice last year, to cater for the difficulties then.

Pressures have been known for some time.  In some recent years, the catchment distance has been as low as 350 yards, when intake was 30; it has risen to twice that with the intake being 60. Now the result of an Adjudicator's decision on numbers, but no final outcome yet (Feb 2013). See article

The problems with the last minute expansion of Claremont Primary from 60 to 90  for 2011 entry arewell documented, but this has now been consolidated (NOTE - no it has not, and KCC has reduced its PAN back to 60 for 2013 entry, which will surely be the subject of complaint and appeal)

St Matthew's High Brooms also received 20 additional pupils last year at the last moment, and this has also been consolidated with a PAN increase from 60 to 90 for 2012 (NOTE and now permanently). 17 of the additional pupils have been allocated by KCC, who did not apply for it.

Last year, Sherwood Park had 27 children allocated to it, this year the figure has risen to 33 out of its 60 places. The school is one of the lowest performing primaries in Kent and is destined to be taken over by an academy group (which one is unknown, but follow link),  so most of those allocated will be unhappy with their destination. The other two schools taking numbers of reallocated children are Rusthall St Paul's and Broadwater. (NOTE failed OFSTED and has now been resurrected as a sponsored academy)

The big puzzle is St James CofE VA Infant School which has a Planned Admission Number of 70. This requires the school to organise three classes of 23 children, a comfortable number for everyone, but with pressure on the system, both financially a luxury, but also tempting to increase numbers to 30 a class  i.e. 90 in total. In fact, this is what happened last year and could be expected to repeat for 2012 entry, given the pressures on the system. However, for some reason, KCC decided to reduce numbers back to 70, in spite of the pressure on places. I understand the school was happy to admit 90 again, which makes the decision doubly bizarre (NOTE - unsurprisingly, there were 30 successful appeals). 

In this pressured situation, KCC's main long term solution appears to be championing a new Free School, which is proposed for the area. However, as my article shows, it is planned to have one small class each year, so hardly likely to make a big incursion into the shortage of places (NOTE - see latest). 

This being Tunbridge Wells, some parents will opt out of unsuitable schools, taking advantage of the profusion of private schools in the area. Last year, around 34 children dropped out of the system, most probably following this route, allowing a total of 52 of those allocated by KCC to secure places in one of their preference schools, and a total of 13 free spaces across all schools.  .