Schools and colleges in Horsham and the outlying villages provide our children with the very best start to their lives and careers.
It is a source of huge pride locally and a reason why many choose to move to our area.
I have already written about our local primaries’ success in Key Stage 2 results: the proportion of pupils achieving the expected standards at 67 per cent is above both the county and national average.
At secondary level, Forest, Millais, Tanbridge House and, in Billingshurst, the Weald are all great schools, recognised as such by Ofsted and achieving very good results for their pupils.
Collyer’s is the top performing sixth form college in the county, is highly respected nationally (and in the field of robotics internationally!). The Weald’s sixth form also consistently performs well in A-Level achievement.
As our local population has grown investment has been provided into local schools enabling these hugely popular establishments to increase their number of pupils.
However across the country there is a significant increase in the number of pupils attending secondary school. The secondary population rose to 2.85 million in 2018 and is projected to continue increasing until around 2025, reaching an estimated 3.28 million. Across the country more secondary schools places are needed.
I am pleased that we in Horsham have secured Government funding for a new secondary school opening in September. The additional school ensures sufficient secondary places should be available locally to meet local needs.
Bohunt have a good reputation as an education provider elsewhere and although they will be starting as a small school in a temporary site, close to Collyer’s, Bohunt and our councils are hugely focussed on achieving the move as swiftly as possible to a state-of-the-art, purpose-built new school. There are fewer more important motivations in any family than to give children the best possible start in life. The transition from primary to secondary school is always a big step and with so many good schools locally parents understandably want the very best fit for their children.
This year’s allocation is impacted not only by extra numbers but also (for this year only) a dual-application process which seems to have added uncertainty. While the vast majority of parents have secured a place for their child at their first choice or a preferred option, I am particularly focussed on those who have not. It appears a relatively small number and I very much hope this can be resolved soon and lessons learned for next year when a single admissions system will apply.