Primary schools will join forces

All saints and St Peters school, Old Heathfeld SUS-160323-231221008
All saints and St Peters school, Old Heathfeld SUS-160323-231221008

A scheme to create ‘Federations’ of primary schools is on the drawing board for Heathfield, Five Ashes and Mayfield.

The innovative scheme aims to enhance the excellence of smaller schools while drawing on the resources and support of larger neighbouring primaries.

East Sussex County Council has issued a report which recommends that Five Ashes CE Primary School forms a Federation with Mayfield CE Primary School. All Saints’ and St Richard’s CE Primary School, Old Heathfield will also work with the Diocese of Chichester and the local authorities to form a Federation with another local school. These Federations should be in place by the end of this year. Officers explain that Federation is a formal legal arrangement where there is one governing body for all the schools involved.

Federations also provide opportunities for schools to work together. The council will also work with the Diocese to explore the possibility of creating a possible Free School for the area - linked to the emerging housing plans for Heathfield.

The plans have met with wholehearted approval by teachers and governors. Mrs Emma Gower, chair of governors for All Saints’ and St Richard’s told the Express: “We are absolutely delighted. This will add strength to our school and help us develop even further so we can give even more support to our pupils and staff. These Federations work extremely well - there are already a couple in the area, the Woodland Federation and a Federation between Framfield and Blackboys. They mean that schools share expertise and experience to the benefit of everyone. We are stronger together.”

In October 2014 County’s education lead member agreed to a review of primary schools in the Heathfield area as part of its plans for future local education. It was essential, the report states there is enough scope to meet local demand as more homes are built. The issue was followed up, data packs prepared and meetings held between council officers and the diocese. As a result it was agreed a Federation solution for each school was the best way forward.

And if emerging housing plans mean there is even more need to find extra places, a new Free School or Academy could be built.

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