Kennet School

Kennet School

Infobox UK school
name = Kennet Comprehensive School

|The badge of Kennet Comprehensive School
size = 150px
latitude = 51.4015
longitude = -1.2487
dms =
motto = "Excellence through endeavour"
established = 1957
type = Comprehensive community school
religion =
head_label = Headmaster
head = Paul Gerard Dick OBE JP
chair_label =
chair =
specialist = Technology College, Language College and Arts College
specialist_pl = plural
street = Stoney Lane
city = Thatcham
county = Berkshire
country = ENG
postcode = RG19 4LL
LEA = West Berkshire
ofsted = 110055
staff = 121
enrollment = 2,000 total
gender = Co-educational
lower_age = 11
upper_age = 18
houses = 4
colours = Navy blue and gold
color box|Navy color box|Gold
publication = Kennet News (1975-1990)
Kennet Chronicle (2002-2004)
free_label_1 = GCSE test score
free_1 = 388.4 points/student [ [,,1986469,00.html Guardian GCSE results for West Berkshire] ]
free_label_2 = National ranking
free_2 = 303rd at GCSE
101st at A-level
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website =
website_name = Official website

Kennet Comprehensive School is a secondary school in Thatcham, Berkshire, England. It is a comprehensive community school [ [ DCSF - Kennet School] ] run by the West Berkshire Education Authority and in 2006 was the highest achieving comprehensive school in West Berkshire using contextual value-added results. [ [ BBC News - Education league tables] ] In the same year it was also rated as one of the highest achieving schools in England, ranking as the 101st best comprehensive in the Guardian's league table, based on A-level results [ [,,1852555,00.html Guardian A-level results] ] and 303rd based on GCSE results. [ [,,1858302,00.html Guardian GCSE results] ]

Kennet is also one of very few schools in England to have three specialisms, Technology College, [ [ DCSF specialism listing - Technology College (Excel file)] ] Arts College, [ [ DCSF specialism listing - Arts College (Excel file)] ] and most recently Language College. [ [ DCSF specialism listing - Language College (Excel file)] ] [ West Berkshire Council - Specialism Hat-trick for Kennet School] ] [ [ Newbury Today - Kennet awarded third specialism] ]

The school opened on 11 September 1957 as a secondary modern, which then converted into a comprehensive in 1971. [ Thatcham Town Council - Secondary Education] ] The school has 1,720 pupils on roll in years 7 to 11, 280 pupils attending sixth form (years 12 and 13) with 121 teachers and 78 non-teaching staff. The headmaster is Paul Gerard Dick OBE [ [ BBC News - For services to education] ] JP [ [ Newbury Today - Interview with Paul Dick] ] and the school has a student council.


In the 1950s secondary education in Thatcham was provided by the Council School. However, with the raising of the school leaving age to 15 in 1947 and an increasing demand for secondary education the existing accommodation was proving inadequate, with 545 children in a school built for just 350 pupils. Accordingly the then Berkshire County Council approved the construction of a new secondary school in the village, and construction started in July 1956.Peter Allen. "A Popular History of Thatcham". Newbury: Newbury Weekly News, 1980, pp94-5.] The new Kennet School was built at a cost of GB£148,000.Peter Allen. "The Book of Thatcham: A Record of a Changing Community". Tiverton: Halsgove, 2006.] There was criticism at the time that the school was equipped 'far too extravagantly' and that it would have been better to spread the money more evenly across the district. Nevertheless the new school opened its doors on 11 September 1957 with a staff of 30 teachers and accommodation for 430 pupils. Over 600 pupils turned up on the first day, with children travelling from over 20 villages in West Berkshire. By the end of the second year there were 720 pupils on the roll, and there were more than 800 children at the school in the third year. Temporary accommodation was found while new classrooms were being built. The old Council School was subsequently converted to a primary school and was renamed as Francis Baily School in 1964.

Kennet was planned as a secondary modern school, and catered for children from 11 to 15 years of age. The children were streamed, with the lower streams being offered a more practical curriculum. Courses were offered in subjects such as nursing, domestic science, furniture-making, canoe-building, metalwork, arts and crafts, and secretarial skills.

The school swimming pool opened in July 1959. Members of the school's Parent-Teacher Association helped with the funding and provided volunteer labour to keep within the budget of £500.

In 1971 the school became fully comprehensive and in December 1972, Kennet welcomed Prince Philip who arrived by helicopter to visit the school and to inspect the work of children involved in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. In November 1974, after support from the Parent-Teacher Association and Thatcham Town Council, the school was granted permission to open a sixth form.

As part of an expansion of the school to cater for more students, a Science block was constructed that opened in 1974. Also in 1974, the humanities/English block was opened..

In 1981 the "Physically Disabled Resource" opened at a cost of £100,000, it catered for 20 pupils and was the first specialised unit in the county. In May 1981 the school hosted the first Kennet Games, a sports day for physically handicapped children. The event continues annually.

In November 1983 the sports hall was named the Hurford Hall in honour of George Hurford, an ex-headmaster of the school. In 1988 the Kennet Leisure Centre opened to the public [ [ Thatcham Town Council - History of Thatcham] ]

In April 1994 a Berkshire County Council report into the school reported that some school buildings were in poor condition. Plans for the Risman Library complex were submitted to Thatcham Town Council in March 1995 and in November the school buried a time capsule behind the leisure centre. During 1996 an expanded Kennet Leisure Centre, complete with an indoor heated swimming pool, opened to replace the ageing open air pool. In September 1997, the new Risman Library/history block opened to students.

In September 2000 the school was given Technology College status. In February 2002 a new technology block was built on the north of the site to replace dispersed classrooms. In March 2005 the school received Arts College status and in September 2005 the science block was extended to allow for a larger preparation room. In January 2006 the school received Language College status and between June and September 2006 the Resources department was extended and the main entrance refurbished to include automatic doors, better disabled access and a lobby area. A drama and sixth form study block opened in 2007.


Kennet was awarded the Artsmark Gold by the Arts Council England in 2001 [ [ Artsmark round 1 results] ] , 2004 [ [ Artsmark round 4 results] ] and 2007. [ [ Artsmark round 7 results] ] It was also awarded the Sportsmark by Sport England in 2001. [ [ March 2005 OFSTED report (page 37, section 118)] ] The school was also awarded the Challenge Award by National Association for Able Children in Education on 22 November 2006 as recognition for its efforts to support Able, Gifted and Talented students. [ [ NACE - Challenge Award receiving schools] ] Kennet was only the 16th school in the country to receive the award at the time.

Teaching awards

The headmaster, Paul Gerard Dick, was awarded an OBE for Services to Education in the 2000 New Year's Honours List. [ [ BBC News - For services to education] ] Paul Dick was also the Category Winner in 2001 in "The Leadership Trust Award for School Leadership in a Secondary School in South of England". [ [,,583033,00.html Guardian - Working together] ] [ [ The Teaching Awards 2001 - Mr Paul Dick] ]

Members of staff receiving teaching awards:

*Martyn Greenway, 2003 Special Commendee, "The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in South" [ [ The Teaching Awards 2003 - Mr Martyn Greenway] ]
*Juli Morgan-Russell, 2003 Category Winner, "The Guardian Award for Outstanding New Teacher in a Secondary School in South" [ [ The Teaching Awards 2003 - Mrs Juli Morgan-Russell] ]
*Sandra Baron, 2004 Category Winner, "The Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year in a Secondary School in South" [ [ The Teaching Awards 2004 - Mrs Sandra Baron] ]
*David Wootton, 2006 Commendation Award, "The DfES Award for Governor of the Year in South of England" [ [ The Teaching Awards 2006 - Mr David Wootton] ]

Student awards

In 2006, student Joseph Briggs finished in the top 40 in the country for the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust's "Intermediate Mathematical Challenge" out of 200,000 other entrants. [ [ Newbury Today - Whizz kid heads to maths summer school] ]

In 2007, three students, Georgia Marriott, Emily Herbert and Emma Skeavington received an award from Chief Superintendent Richard Bennett for their work on "Operation Fizzy". This involved them trying to buy alcoholic beverages from a number of retailers including pubs and supermarkets. The operation led to a number of successful prosecutions against retailers for selling to under-age drinkers. [ [ Newbury Today - 'Undercover' schoolgirls rewarded] ]

Sixth form

There is a sixth form at Kennet for students who wish to continue their education after the age of 16. The students have their own block that was constructed for the start of the 2007 academic year, which consists of a common area, where the sixth formers can socialise, a computer suite and the sixth form offices. There is also a section of the library provided for sixth form use only. There is no set uniform; instead a dress code is set. Boys must wear a shirt and tie, and girls must dress in smart office wear. [ [ Kennet School Sixth Form Handbook] ] The European Computer Driving Licence qualification can be studied with any sixth form course. Some sixth formers are appointed house captains after an application and selection process by the heads of houses. The captains organise teams for inter-house sports, music, drama and art competitions.

Extracurricular activities


When students join the school they become a member of a house. The house system provides a structure for pastoral care, with the Head of each house responsible for the students in that house. The house system is an integral part of extracurricular activities in the school. The houses compete against each other in sports, athletics, music, drama and outstanding academic excellence.

There are four houses at the school: Saint Patrick, Saint Michael, Saint Francis, and Saint David. Now defunct houses are Saint George and Saint Andrew, which were dissolved in the early 1980s. Each house is associated with a colour: St. Patrick with green, St. Michael with red, St. Francis with purple and St. David with yellow.

"Note:The irregularity in A-level scores is due to changes in the way the points are made."

Image gallery


External links

* [ Kennet Comprehensive School website]
* [ West Berkshire Education Business Partnership]
* [ OFSTED's report on the school]

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