Sixth Formers’ Youth Survey to Help Shape Town’s Development Plans

A local cinema and the opening of a skate park could attract more young people into Tenterden. That’s according to a survey conducted by a group of sixth formers from Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre.

The sixth formers came up with the idea of conducting the youth survey after connecting with Tenterden’s new Town Centre and Tourism Co-ordinator Keli Nolan-Lyons and hearing about the town council’s current regeneration plans for the town centre and the aspiration to improve its appeal to a younger audience.

In the survey of the school’s students, aged 11-18, access to a cinema was by far the most popular answer to the open question: “What additional activities would you like to see in Tenterden?”

In the absence of an actual town cinema, more than two thirds of those questioned were potentially interested in the idea of Saturday film showings at Homewood’s Sinden Theatre.

The next most popular answer was a skate park, which is already part of the redevelopment plans for Tenterden’s recreation ground.

The online survey also asked students about their current preferred activities, payment methods, transport, personal safety and how much they knew about the history of the town.

The current favourite activity was shopping, followed by going to cafes and restaurants, trips to the park and visits to family and friends, with going swimming also featuring.

In contrast to national trends, the majority still pay with cash when visiting the town – 54 per cent - with 32 per cent using a debit or credit card and 13 per cent using other forms of payment, such as Apple Pay.

The vast majority of students (over 70 per cent) indicated that they felt safe visiting the town centre on their own, either always or sometimes, but 22 per cent said this was only the case during the daytime. Very few (5.7 per cent) said they didn’t feel safe.

When it came to knowing about the history of Tenterden, very few claimed to know a lot (3 per cent) with just under half (49.2 per cent) knowing a little, but the remainder (47.5 per cent) felt they didn’t know anything about the town’s past – something which the postponed Town Hall Archive exhibition could help to address with its planned education days for local schools.

The sixth formers who devised the survey are studying for the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP). Homewood Sixth Form IB Co-ordinator Dr Claire Tyson explained: “All IBCP students spend some time each week on service learning.  This can mean working on projects connected with our school, our local community, or the wider global community.  After hearing from Keli we decided to focus on supporting the work of the Tenterden Town Council by exploring younger visitors’ views and discover what current or new town features appeal to them.”

Keli Nolan-Lyons is delighted with the collaborative project.  She said: “As a Homewood initiative, it is great to have this feedback from the students having such an interest in Tenterden where they study and many live. We hope we can continue this relationship and engagement to help us adapt, evolve and thrive in the future.”

Five sixth formers from the IB study group have now been invited to discuss the full survey results and their implications during the Town Council’s next virtual meeting in January 2021.