Margaret Williams, Chair of Governors for Wye School, tells the story of how the school came into being.
In 2011, a group of parents and members of the Wye community identified a real need for high-quality school places in the Ashford area. We formed the Wye Free School Group and chose to partner United Learning, an organisation with an outstanding record for excellence in education going back 130 years. Together we submitted a proposal to the Department for Education setting out the case for a Free School in Wye.
In July 2012, the Department for Education gave the go ahead for the proposed Wye Free School to progress to the implementation stage with an expectation of it opening in September 2013. We therefore began to accept applications for our first Year 7 intake. We were greatly encouraged by the interest in the school with over 900 prospective parents coming along to our open days. We received over 200 applications for places at the school and all of the parents whose children were offered a place at the school for September 2013 were notified at the beginning of March.
We also conducted a public consultation into the proposal in which we sought to hear the views of a wide range of stakeholders including prospective parents, local education providers and members of the Wye community. Throughout the consultation, we wanted to hear from local people how Wye School could best meet their needs and make a positive contribution to the local community. We were heartened by the positive response to the consultation and delighted that so many people in Wye and the surrounding villages recognise the benefits of a school being located in Wye. You can read the report of the consultation’s findings here.
In April 2013, the Wye Free School Group and United Learning announced that they had appointed Ms Janet Naylor as the first Principal of the school. Ms Naylor joined the school from Uplands Community School in East Sussex where she was Deputy Head Teacher.
Ms Naylor took up post full time on 1 June and worked closely with the Free School Group and United Learning as plans for the school gathered pace. This included the recruitment of all of the teaching staff for the first year. We employed a team of superb teachers who were enthusiastic about their subject areas and excited to be involved in establishing a new school. In addition to this, we have also recruited a bursar, Principal's PA and two support staff.
As sponsor, United Learning will run the school including appointing and training staff and delivering an outstanding education for students. The Free School Group will be responsible for ensuring the school reflects the needs and aspirations of the local community and will run community events outside of school hours. With the experience of United Learning and the enthusiasm and dedication of the local team, I am confident that Wye School will be a truly exceptional school that will bring out the best in everyone.
On Wednesday 4th September 2013 Wye School opened on time, on schedule and with a full cohort of students and staff.
W B Yeats wrote: 'Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire.' We agree with this vision and it is our aim that students will be excited, stimulated and will gain a real love of learning.
A brief history of the names, buildings and locations associated with Wye School
The first name for the Kent village of Wye was Weowerawald, Anglo-Saxon for ‘forest of the people of Wye.’ Over time this name changed to Wyth then Wii then Wi before settling on Wy. From about 1570 however it became Wye, a word which has its roots in the Old English word ‘wig’ and means ‘a pagan sacred place.’ Today Wye is home to just under 3000 people, part of the parish of Wye with Hinxhill, and home to Wye School since 2013.
Our Kempe building is named after John Kempe (c. 1380 – 22 March 1454), an Archbishop and Cardinal who both founded Wye College and re-built Wye Church. He owned Olantigh, the estate that the road is named after.
Founded in 1447 by John Kempe as a training college for priests. In 1894 it became an agricultural college and it remained in that role until 2005. Imperial College London were the last user of the historic buildings but sadly they moved out in 2009.
Our Kempe Building was built as the Wye College Learning Resources Centre in 1996 and became the first Wye School building in September 2013.