Support ongoing as closure looms for Chichester primary school

A Chichester primary school said focus remains on ensuring pupils ‘receive a good learning experience’, with the threat of closure looming large.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:17 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 11:39 am
Hope is fading that Rumboldswhyke School will remain open. Picture: Liz Pearce LP191933

Despite a petition being signed by more than 1,300 people, and an Ofsted monitoring report showing improvements had been made, hope is beginning to fade that Rumboldswhyke CofE Primary School will remain open past September.

Members of the cabinet will be asked to support proposals to shut Rumboldswhyke Infant School, along with Stedham Primary School, near Midhurst, and Clapham and Patching Primary School, near Worthing, at a meeting on January 14. Read more here

Headteacher Debbie Allen and chairman of the interim executive board, Kevin Jenkins, said: “The options for Rumboldswhyke School following its inadequate Ofsted inspection in May 2019 have always been very narrow, academisation or closure. We are aware efforts by WSCC with the Diocese to find an Academy sponsor for Rumboldswhyke CE Infant School have been unsuccessful. As outlined in the officers’ report, this leaves the one option of closure.

“The school’s interim leadership team are very mindful of the impact this may have on pupils, parents and staff and are working with all of them during this period of uncertainty to ensure they are all supported. The focus remains on ensuring the pupils receive a good learning experience during this time.”

A spokesperson for the Save Rumboldswhyke School team, which set up the petition, said closure should not be an option and will be ‘damaging’ for the community.

She added: “Rumboldswhyke school is a small, nurturing CoE school in the South East of Chichester since Victorian times and it should stay where it belongs, at the heart of its community.”

Councillor Sarah Sharp, a former parent at the school, has been involved in the campaign against closure.

She said: “With nearly 3,000 houses coming near the school in the south and east of the city, closing the school seems really short sighted.

“The headteacher has given permission for children to miss an hour’s school and take part in a parade to County Hall on Thursday morning. Parents will be there with their banners.”

Meanwhile, Compton and Up Marden looks to have avoided closure after it was recommended it become a federation. Ed Platt, chair of governors, said: “We are pleased with the recommendation as we are a good, strong school.”

The proposals will be discussed at a meeting of the children and young people’s services scrutiny committee on January 9, before going to cabinet.

Both meetings will be held at County Hall, Chichester, and will be webcast at www.westsussex.gov.uk.