Special comment by the chairs of governors of the Storrington Area Rural Schools:
Young people must come first in any debate about the future shape of the education system in the Storrington area. While change is rarely welcome, local loyalty to a system that does not deliver for the young seems misplaced.
The community is entitled to be given a fair and honest picture of the strengths and areas for improvement that are at the heart of the current consultation debate.
Children attending schools in the STARS group are working in a system that pre-dates not just the new national curriculum but its predecessor too. The result is that children change schools mid way through the primary phase.
The new curriculum is organised into two year phases within Key Stage two - years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6. In the majority of primary schools this causes no problems. In our local context though, it means that children experience the two halves of this phase in six different schools including Rydon.
Research commissioned by the county council following Ofsted advice to streamline age of transfer shows a strong link between underachievement and school transfer within the primary phase.
It should be no surprise therefore to learn that outcomes for children are negatively affected at the end of Key Stage two.
Children in our area achieve lower than county averages year on year with able and disadvantaged children among the most affected groups.
GCSE outcomes are similarly hindered. The chances of getting five good passes at Steyning are significantly lower for children going through the STARS route than for those who attend primary schools in the Steyning area.
While Rydon is able to offer some of the facilities common to secondary schools such as science labs and food tech facilities, it should be noted that the primary curriculum does not require the provision of such things. If this were the case, all other primaries might be judged to be providing sub-standard facilities.
National comparisons and research evidence show how well effective primary schools meet the needs of the full range of pupils in year 6. Remaining in their primary setting until the end of the Key Stage means not only that primary schools become more accountable for outcomes but that children are emotionally as well as intellectually ready to meet the challenges of secondary education.
All schools in the STARS group signed up to a set of principles in January 2013 that put the best possible outcomes for all young people at the heart of their mission. The first schools remain committed to this purpose and to achieving the best all through route for our young people, working with everyone to achieve that.
Comment by chairs of governors at the STARS Primary Schools:
Amberley CE First School, Carolyn Shaw
Ashington CE First School, Dawn Watson-Jones
St Mary’s First School, Washington, Pamela Blake-Thomas, Pauline Davenport (Co Chairs)
Storrington First School, Peter Surtees
Thakeham First School, Roger Taylor
West Chiltington First School, Tim Rose
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