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Living in East Kent

Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrims may have swapped their hessian and mead for Birkenstocks and English fizz; horses for high-speed trains, but East Kent remains a mecca for people from all walks of life.

Under what Turner described as ‘the most beautiful skies in Europe’ is a long petticoat of coast with the magnificent chalk cliffs of St Margaret’s Bay and Victorian promenade at Folkestone; the buzzy harbour of Whitstable; the ‘lazy days of stone skimming’ shingle at Deal; retro Dickensian Broadstairs and the atmospheric edge of the world feel at Dungeness (once claimed to be a desert!) – all anchored by the historic city of Canterbury, quirky market towns and rural retreats. Serviced by the High Speed 1 railway, London can sometimes be accessed quicker than a neighbouring town by public transport (38 minutes to St Pancras from Ashford, under an hour from Folkestone and Canterbury). 

We never tire of East Kent – where places such as Margate, Folkestone and Whitstable, are demonstrating how art can play a role in the dramatic regeneration of coastal towns. It’s an exciting and inspiring place to put down roots, with more fresh air, square meterage, and sunshine (yes, it’s the sunniest place in the UK!) for your buck without compromising opportunities. And it’s the simple things - if you can tear yourself away from the serious business of getting cherry juice on pretty much everything (stock up on stain removal May – July) - on a clear day it’s always a joy to see France over the channel. If West Kent is the confident, self-assured and a little bit bossy head girl; East Kent is the dynamic free spirit, voted most likely to ‘run off with, buy and rebrand the circus’.

Education scene in East Kent

Local Education Authorities in Kent
Kent County Council
Medway Council

Kent’s grammar system has a firm hold, which is excellent news for those with academic children but inevitably has an impact on the results of non-selective state schools. While there are some highly respected non-selectives which are popular, oversubscribed and doing a cracking job (sometimes better or on a par with grammars), if you’re in the business of chasing barnstorming academic performance levels in the non-selective state sector, you’re in the wrong place, at least for now.

Kent LEA oversees the Procedure for Entry to Secondary Education (PESE) process which includes the 11+.  There are no fixed catchments in East Kent, but it is likely that if you live a distance from a very popular school, you would be unsuccessful in securing a place (unless you fulfil higher oversubscription criteria).  Popular primary schools tend to have very small catchments and parents will move to be closer (inevitably elevating house prices), especially considering that the most oversubscribed often have good track records for ‘destination grammar schools’.

In addition to excellent prep schools and nurseries there are some ‘big hitter’ private secondary schools offering excellent education for a variety of budgets: from the traditional ‘penguin’ uniform of Kings School Canterbury to the snazzy blazers of Ashford School. It’s common for families to dip in and out of private education as and when it works for them and consequently some private schools tend to be more flexible with their admissions and perhaps more holistic in their approach.

Thanks to state funding, there are some big projects underway in a number of neglected state secondary schools, notably in Canterbury and Thanet, and the work will radically improve provision and resources. While polarised debate continues to rage about the rights and wrongs of the two-tier grammar system, a group of parents has successfully opened a school in Wye to provide an alternative to a grammar school that offers the same level of education. It’s early days, but results already looking favourable – power to the parents! Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath – in East Kent the grammar system is so entrenched that any change will inevitably be slow. Subscribing to the system is the reality for most and being forewarned and equipped to be agile if faced with perceived doors shutting, is the message. Rest assured, we’re here to help and with 18 Good Schools Guide reviewed schools in the area, the discerning parent will find the right fit.

Looking for the best schools in East Kent? Our Education Consultants can help.

The Good Schools Guide education consultants help parents from all over the world find the best schools for their children. We have experts all over the United Kingdom, each one with their own specialist areas of knowledge. If you would like to know more about your family’s education options in east Kent and how we are able to help, please get in touch - [email protected] - or read about our education consultancy services.

Your thoughts on education in East Kent

Do you have experience of education in east Kent – or indeed elsewhere – that you would like to share with us? Our large network of parents and teachers makes sure that we keep up to date and publish accurate, relevant and helpful information. Please write to us [email protected].

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