Stedham Primary school ‘let down but not defeated’ as consultation on closure to go ahead

The vice chairman of governors at Stedham Primary said the school is feeling ‘let down’ but ‘not defeated’ by the decision made about its future this week.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 11:25 am
Stedham Primary School, nr Midhurst. Pic Steve Robards SR1918736 SUS-190730-145119001
Stedham Primary School, nr Midhurst. Pic Steve Robards SR1918736 SUS-190730-145119001

Cabinet members at West Sussex County Council agreed that a consultation into closing the school from September was to go ahead.

The same decision was made about Rumboldswhyke Infant School and Clapham & Patching Primary.

Celia Billington, vice chairman on governors, said Stedham Primary School was focusing on discussions with other schools about forming a federation, which she was a ‘lifeline’ that could save it from closing.

She said the school was ‘very disappointed’ that the cabinet members had declined take closure off the table completely, as per the recommendation made by the select committee last week.

The school had come ‘quite a long way’ in conversations about federating with several other schools, she said, adding: “We are really positive about federation as a concept as long as it works for staff and works for the children.”

However she criticised the tight timeline in place and said: “We are not being given a reasonable amount of time to do this.”

If a detailed plan to federate with another school is made before February 3, the consultation on closure will not go ahead.

If a plan can be made before March 16, then the consultation could be halted.

But Ms Billington said securing a written agreement with another school was ‘a tricky thing to achieve in just a few weeks’.

“We want to make sure it’s right for both schools,” she said.

She said the uncertainty was putting the school in a ‘really difficult situation’ with prospective parents, who feared the school could close.

The school has lost up to ten children who would have been starting in September, which she said was ‘huge’ for a school which takes just 15 pupils in reception each year.

“We are not feeling defeated by any means, but we are feeling really let down by West Sussex. We are not feeling supported,” she said.

“If the aim was really to support the school by federation, there are much more constructive ways of doing that than having the threat of closure over our heads.”

A consultation on the decisions will run on the council’s website from February 3 for six weeks.

A final decision on each of the schools will be made in April.