Broomhill Bank School - A History
Recent changes to designation
In September 2008, Broomhill Bank (Foundation) Special School was designated a co-educational day school for 5 to 19 year olds with Communication and Interaction needs (Autistic Spectrum and/or Specific Language Disorder) with a total roll of 80 pupils on site (aged 11 - 19) and the capacity to support a further 24 full time equivalent (FTE) children and young people on an outreach basis.
In April 2014 Broomhill Bank (Foundation) Special School was re-designated for an increased roll of 136 students, aged 11-19.
In September 2015 following consultation the roll increased to 210 with provision for 24 residential students.
Broomhill Bank School West and North sites both have rich cultural histories.
Broomhill Bank School originated on the Rusthall / Tunbridge Wells (now known as Broomhill Bank (West)) site. It was initially built in 1843 by Henry Armytage, as a private family home (and today this ‘mansion’ block serves as the main administration centre for the school). At one point Sir Kingsley Wood, an MP, lived in the mansion house. He was friends with another MP, Mr. Hore Belisha, who apparently demonstrated an early prototype of a ‘Belisha’ crossing on the driveway.
During the Second World War the house was used by the Pembury and Kent and Sussex hospitals as a convalescent annex for the service sick and wounded.
Broomhill Bank first came into existence as a school in 1948 when it opened as a special residential school for girls with moderate learning difficulties. The first student started on 4 November of that year and, travelled all the way from Sheerness. The next day 10 more girls arrived and by the end of the academic year there were 40 students on roll. Governing body meeting minutes give an insight to the workings of the school during these first few years. In 1949 the recommended staffing establishment was 17 with a mixture of full and part time staff including 1 head gardener and 2 assistant gardeners! The Headteacher's report recommended a greater extent of ground to be cultivated to increase the supply of vegetables, and in October 1950 12 Rhode Island Red chickens were delivered to the school and were giving 'satisfaction'. The number of students on roll gradually increased and by 1954 there were 76 girls at the school.
In September 2008 Broomhill Bank redesigned to become co-educational and to cater for students aged 11-19 with severe communication and interaction (C&I) needs, including students on the autism spectrum and/or with a severe specific language disorder, and with a total roll of 80 students on site. In April 2014 the school re-designated again to increase the roll to 136 students. Considerable refurbishment has taken place and is continuing; to culminate in October 2015 with the completion of a new performing arts studio.
Broomhill Bank (West) remains the administrative centre for both sites.
Broomhill Bank (North) opened as an expansion of Broomhill Bank in September 2015. The buildings it occupies were originally established as part of the ‘Homes for Little Boys’ project, designed by the benefactors of the time to help the homeless boys roaming the streets of Victorian London. The new home was opened in 1883 by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later to become King Edward V11 and Queen Alexander)
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century Sir Christopher Furness, Chairman of the Committee governing the provision at the time, made a financial investment in the site to develop a provision for training the boys for the Merchant Navy, and the curriculum and uniform at this time reflected the development and learning of seamanship skills. However, following damage to the buildings in 1944 as a result of the 2nd World War boys and staff were evacuated to Devon.
From 1949 the ‘Homes for Little Boys’ initiative was reorganised and the site was commissioned instead for use as a school. Initially it was occupied as a primary school, but more recently as a special school which, closed, vacating the buildings, at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.
26 students were admitted to the new expansion in September 2015. The sixth form at the north site opened in September 2016. Like the West site, the North site is also undergoing a programme of refurbishment and improvement.