Future of South Downs schools to be discussed at committee meeting

JPCT 061211 Rydon Community College. photo derek martin ENGSNL00120110612105401
JPCT 061211 Rydon Community College. photo derek martin ENGSNL00120110612105401

A consultation into the organisation of a group of South Downs schools is to be launched this month by West Sussex County Council.

Parents, schools and local communities will be asked to give their views on the approach to education in the area and whether there should be a change to the age at which pupils transfer to secondary schools.

The schools up for consultation include Amberley Church of England First School, Ashington Church of England First School, Storrington First School, Thakeham First School, St Mary’s Church of England First School in Washington, West Chiltington Community School (first), Rydon Community College (intermediate) in Storrington.

A drop-in event will also be held between 6pm and 7pm on Wednesday, July 8 at Sullington Parish Hall, Thakeham Road, in advance of a meeting of the Chanctonbury County Local Committee.

People will be able to view the consultation document and ask questions about any potential changes.

The Chanctonbury County Local Committee meeting will start at 7pm and members will receive a presentation on the consultation as part of the meeting agenda.

The area is the last remaining locality in West Sussex where schools are not organised in line with the key stages of the national curriculum.

Across the rest of the county, and most of the country, pupils transfer to secondary schools at the end of Key Stage 2 (11 years old). Currently pupils in the Storrington area attend first schools until the age of ten and then transfer to intermediate school when they reach 13 years old. The majority of pupils then join Steyning Grammar School to complete their secondary education.

National research has shown that transferring in the middle of a key stage can be detrimental to a child’s education, so making the changes in the STARS area will allow pupils to transfer in line with the rest of West Sussex, and the national curriculum at the appropriate key stages.

Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Ofsted advised us some time ago that we needed to develop a consistent approach to education across the whole county. We have been working towards this in recent years and the STARS area is the last area which needs to be reviewed.

“The aim of this is to ensure children are given the best opportunities to learn and prepare for adult life, while at the same time retaining the first class system of education in the area.

“We want to hear people’s views and I am hoping we will have an imaginative debate. All comments will be carefully considered before we decided whether to move to the next stage of the process with detailed proposals.”

Discussions have been underway for some time with the head teachers and chairs of governors representing all the schools across the locality to discuss the potential change to the organisation of schools.

The County Council anticipates it would consult fully on proposals for each school in autumn 2015 with a view to any changes being introduced in September 2017.

The consultation will also take into account the impact of any changes for Steyning Grammar School.

The consultation will go live on Monday, July 6 and people will be able to submit comments until the closing date of Friday, September 18.

A consultation booklet will be available from Monday, July 6 at www.westsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay

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