About Educating Brentwood

Educating Brentwood was formed in early 2012 following discussions about changes in the educational landscape in Brentwood.

As many of Brentwood’s schools become Academies, there is no longer a formal requirement to be accountable to the local community. At that time, the potential introduction of a “free school” and a University Technical College would also follow the same pattern. We wondered how schools and colleges would ensure that the educational needs of the town would be met and state funds be accounted for?

We were also concerned about the tone of coverage in the local media regarding educational provision in Brentwood which we felt did not accurately reflect the efforts of teachers, governors and parents or the achievements of pupils. How could this be better represented?

We decided to launch a group with an associated site and agreed our terms of reference:

VISION: Education in Brentwood can be improved through sharing, scrutiny and transparency to enhance accountability to learners, parents, businesses and the community.

AIM: Promoting educational accountability in Brentwood.

To research issues affecting education in Brentwood.
To share information about education in Brentwood through the internet.
To call education providers to account on behalf of the local community.

We are keen to encourage anyone who shares our interest to contribute to our site or post comments. We are not connected with any particular political party, and welcome like-minded others from all persuasions to support our work.

We believe that any contributions should not be anonymous as this is not in the spirit of the transparency that we promote. Comments deemed abusive or that are not relevant to our group will not be approved for publication. Please contact us at our mail address below to join in or for any further information.


The image used on our front page and supporting avatars is taken from a photograph of Thorndon Park by Mr Peter Luck which was a prize winner in a Daily Telegraph photographic competition. The link is here for further information:



Debbie Foster

I am a full time Christian, mum and wife, and a part-time voluntary associate worker for a local Christian charity. I am actively involved in the life of my church. Most of my school days were spent very happily in local Brentwood schools – St Thomas’ C of E Junior followed by Hedley Walter Comprehensive – which inspired me to become a teacher myself. I taught in primary schools both locally and further afield before changing direction and completing an HND in bookbinding and design. I also worked as a bookseller for a while before starting a family. I served as a governor at Holly Trees Junior School, which was a valuable way to maintain my involvement with local education.

I have a 10 year old son who very much enjoys attending a local junior school. Since he started school I have taken an active role, serving as a regular parent helper in his infant school and now as an occasional helper in his junior school.

Kathryn Mayo

I have been a secondary school teacher in Essex since 1994. I am a parent of three locally educated children and a Brentwood resident.

Stephen Mayo

A Brentwood resident for over forty years, I went to the schools that became Holly Trees Primary School and then to Brentwood County High School. I am now a parent of three children who attend local primary and secondary schools. I also write a monthly column for the Brentwood Gazette.

Richard Millwood

Richard has lived in Brentwood since 1990 starting as a Senior Lecturer in the Education Department at Anglia Higher Education College in Sawyers Hall Lane. He has three children, the youngest educated at The Holly Trees Primary School. Richard became a Parent Governor and served as Chair of Governors for seven years, involved in the merging of the Infants and Juniors and the move to the new site in 2003. Richard was then a governor at Sawyers Hall College and was been pleased to observe a high-quality and caring process of phased transfer for young people to Shenfield High School in advance of the closure in August 2012. He has been inspired by the Learning Partnership in Brentwood in which the secondary schools met to collaborate and, for example, enabled sixth formers to benefit from a wider choice of subjects to fit their needs.

Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna is a local parent whose three children have been educated in Brentwood. She moved to Brentwood in 2001 to work as a psychiatrist in the then Mascalls Park. She also does lecturing and research at University College London. Currently she works in the health service in Barking and Dagenham, and she has been able to observe there the increasing importance of collaborative and transparent working with the changes to health service provision, some of which now being replicated in the schools sector.


  1. I am a member of Essex Humanists and have followed the establishment of BK with great concern being made fully aware that it was a fait accompli from the start. Gove and Pickles are not to be deterred.We have been in contact with the DofE to no avail. And the RET stated at a parents meeting that the final consultation would be a mere formality. Please keep us informed of youe future act ivities and let us know if we can help.

    • Educating Brentwood is concerned with accountability to the local community and, as such, must stress that the consultation is not a formality. It is a statutory requirement that must be met. Properly conducted and publicised, this would provide Brentwood residents the opportunity to make their views known and to have them accurately represented to the DfE.

  2. I am very confused by this whole debate. I cannot see what harm is being done in opening a Church of England Senior School in a town which is served by excellent Church primary school. There is a need for a Church school in this part of Essex and it will be a relatively small school. I cannot see how it is wrong to give parents the option to educate their children in a Christian environment. If that impacts on local comprehensives then so be it, it is freedom of choice. Other denominations have Church schools and no-one interferes with the Catholic schools e.g. Ursuline school and St. John Payne in Chelmsford and that is how it should be – it is every parent’s right to choose how their children are educated. I went to school in Brentwood and had a very enjoyable and fruitful education but I know that standards are slipping in some areas and I think it is only right that people are allowed to access free schools and alternative options which may work better than conventional comprehensives for some children. Give Becket keys a chance!

  3. Mary, thank you for your comment.

    It is not our intention to promote or oppose Becket Keys but we want to ensure that everybody is provided with the ability to have their say in its establishment and are properly appraised of its implications for the rest of the town.This is supposed to be done via a consultation which, unfortunately, we believe is currently inadequate for the purpose.

    Our primary aim is to promote accountability in the schools and colleges of Brentwood. In the absence of local authority scrutiny, who will ensure that the free school, academies and, possibly, University Technical College are run in the best interests of their students and the tax payer? In the case of Becket Keys it is very unclear who those behind it actually are and what their experience in education is. This is our concern.


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