VIDEO: Joy over decision to save Rogate Primary School

The words 'Thank you – saved' plastered across 'Save our School' campaign posters in Rogate said it all this week.

After a hard-fought battle by the community, Rogate has been told

it will not only keep its school, but it will gain a new Year Six and become a stand-alone, all-through primary school.

Villagers were celebrating after West Sussex county council unveiled its plans for primary schools across the Rother Valley following a series of public consultation meetings.

To see the celebrations click on the green button.

Gone is the proposed closure of Rogate and out are plans to amalgamate three pairs of schools: Rake with Hollycombe, Midhurst with Stedham and Petworth with Northchapel.

Instead, they will all become all-through primary schools, gaining a Year Six.

Chairman of governors Paul Hardwick, who led the successful campaign to save the Rogate school, told the Observer: "We are absolutely ecstatic. Our campaign was a classic example of a great team working together and the community rallying behind us."

"The key thing is the county council has listened to us, and to be told we will be a stand-alone, four-to-11 primary school is the perfect outcome."

This view was reinforced by headteacher Jenny Chapman. "The support we have received from parents, governors and the community just goes to show what an excellent asset the school is to the community."

The acting headteacher at Northchapel School, Clare Murphy, said the mood was one of joy.

Northchapel parents were horrified at earlier proposals to amalgamate their school with Petworth, leaving only four to seven-year-olds in the village.

"We would have been in effect the only three-tier school left in the Rother Valley," said Ms Murphy, "This is wonderful news and staff, governors, parents and pupils are delighted."

She now hopes there will be funding to improve Northchapel's outdated buildings.

"We very much hope that there will be finance to update our buildings, but the details have yet to be discussed."

Parents and staff were also celebrating at Stedham Primary School.

"This is democracy in action," said headteacher Hazel Morley, "We are all thrilled and I am personally delighted that I now have the chance to lead the school with its new Year Six."

Chairman of Hollycombe parents association Fran Benson said: "This decision will enable us to build on the ongoing success and popularity of the school.

"We are very grateful to everyone for the support they have shown us and the other schools in the area."

Announcing the decision, county council cabinet member for education Pat Arculus said she believed there was now a 'clear direction' for the future planning of primary schools in the Rother Valley.

She also announced an investment of 2.5m in school buildings in the area.

She added: "The governing body of Rogate has set out ambitious forecasts for pupil numbers and an intention to galvanise

community support.

"I have asked officers to work with the governing body and to report on its progress after a three-year period."

Announcing the decision to abandon the proposed amalgamations, Cllr Arculus continued: "Having listened very carefully to the views of the community I have decided that, rather than impose these changes, the county council should work with governing bodies to gradually develop new models of leadership."

The changes are to be introduced in September next year.