Consultation on proposed school closures to go ahead

Campaigners calling for Broad Oak Community School near Heathfield to be saved outside County Hall
Campaigners calling for Broad Oak Community School near Heathfield to be saved outside County Hall

A consultation on the proposed closure of two East Sussex schools has been given the go-ahead this week.

Parents at both Broad Oak Community Primary School near Heathfield and Fletching CE Primary School have signalled their opposition to the move with campaigns set to fight any closures.

Jenny Barnard-Langston, chair of the Governors of Fletching Church of England Primary School, meets Wealden MP Nus Ghani

Jenny Barnard-Langston, chair of the Governors of Fletching Church of England Primary School, meets Wealden MP Nus Ghani

But on Monday East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education approved the process of consulting on the closures.

This would start on Friday July 5 and run until mid-October before a final decision is made on the future of both schools.

The council says the says the closures would reduce the number of surplus places in each area and have a positive impact on other schools.

Read more: Fletching and Heathfield schools could close leaving parents ‘appalled’

After the meeting Jenny Barnard-Langston, chair of governors at Fletching Primary School, said children ‘thrive’ at the school, which ‘punches above its weight’ and has a ‘highly-skilled staff team’.

She added: “We will fight throughout the consultation period to put the true facts that were missing from the report particularly the comparative, quantitative data.”

She has met with Wealden MP Nus Ghani to discuss the proposed closure. The MP said afterwards: “This is not just about the school, but about a fundamental part of village life here in Wealden.”

“It is important too that we seek to address the underlying problem facing a large number of rural schools in the constituency, which is a lack of pupils.

“We need a robust programme of house-building to ensure that young families can continue to move to Wealden and take advantage of the fantastic education available to them through schools like Fletching.”

Meanwhile campaigners fighting to save Broad Oak’s school said they were ‘disappointed and frustrated’ with the decision to move ahead with the consultation.

They raised large-scale house building planned in the area, which would mean extra pupil numbers.

A statement added: “We believe we have a strong and robust case for the school to stay open and we will be working really hard, in partnership with our MP, Huw Merriman, our community, and other organisations to make sure our feelings are heard and responded to by the East Sussex County Council. We urge local people to make their feelings known and heard.

“East Sussex need to pause and review what they are trying to achieve – closing our school will achieve nothing apart from destroying a high performing school, its heritage and placing other schools under strain. The only people to lose out will be the very youngest members of our community – who deserve so much better.”