Save West Sussex Primary Schools from closure - Sept 2020.
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Stedham Primary school along with Rumboldswhyke, and Clapham & Patching schools are being recommended for closure by West Sussex County Council. Our small rural villages are under threat of losing the heart of their community, and our pupils, parents and staff losing their choice to have an education in a small rural setting.
Stedham parents, pupils, governors, staff and residents of the village have been left devastated by the recommendation of WSCC to close the schools, despite a good ofsted rating, consistent pupil numbers and the backing of parents, villagers and local residents to keep the school in the villages
Pupils from Stedham Primary School receive an individualised and tailored education that is uniquely provided by small schools, where every pupil is known as an individual by each of the members of staff.
Clapham and Patching is a small rural school which has served the villages for over 200 years and, in more recent times, become a lifeline to many families in the wider community where the small mainstream environment has allowed many children with mild to moderate special needs to thrive. The children are given opportunities to learn through outdoor activities as well as in the classroom, and the teachers and teaching assistants have a brilliant way of connecting with students on an individual basis to get the best from them in a unique way.
Housing in the area is increasing rapidly and local schools are full, so to close Clapham and Patching School makes no sense. As well as having to find school places for those without additional needs, WSCC would need to find suitable places for various needs in other schools which, as parents, we know just aren't there. A lot of the children have already been to more than one school due to their needs not being met so to close this school will be detrimental, not only to their education but also their emotional wellbeing. We cannot let our lovely school close and really need to keep it in the community
For Rumboldswhyke School, a Freedom of Information request has turned up an email saying "we are aiming to move to close the school by the end of the academic year 2019-20". This email dates from July 2019. The "consultation" only began in October ! At the end of the "consultation", 90% of responders wanted to keep the school open, yet the council still wants to close it. The official briefing papers to councillors say that WSCC has taken the consultation results into account. Someone is not being entirely straightforward here!
Rumboldswhyke has a reputation for being particularly nurturing. And parents are able to walk or cycle with their children to school. This sets up good habits for life and is precisely what the Council says it wants to encourage. With no nearby alternative school in walking distance, closing Rumboldswhyke will impact the environment and children’s long-term health.
Just before the end of the last school year, Ofsted found the school to be ‘inadequate’. Council is using this as the key reason for closure. But the "weaknesses" Ofsted found were mainly administrative ones which the new head teacher and her team have resolved. A monitoring visit in November could hardly have been more complimentary: "Since they joined the school in September, the impact of the headteacher’s and senior teacher’s work cannot be overstated.
The process to get to this recommendation has been shambolic and riddled with flaws and errors from the start, and has been based on a mountain of lies. The sheer lack of support and engagement from WSCC to help prevent this situation fills the parents and governors with disbelief.
We want WSCC and all those involved in making these decisions to keep the schools open, allow time to explore all options of federation and academisation and for WSCC to give us the support needed to secure that decision to federate and / or academise. All of this needs to also be done in a time frame that is realistic and achievable, rather than under a time pressure that is purely only benefiting those who allocate school placements.
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