Final decision on permanent closure of Chichester school looms

The closure of two small schools in West Sussex has been proposed by council officers following a six-week consultation.

ks20083-2 Rumboldswyke Meeting  phot kate
Supporters of Rumboldswhyke School outside the Assembly Rooms in Chichester.ks20083-2 SUS-200303-190946008
ks20083-2 Rumboldswyke Meeting phot kate Supporters of Rumboldswhyke School outside the Assembly Rooms in Chichester.ks20083-2 SUS-200303-190946008

Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for education and skills, has been asked to support plans to close Clapham and Patching CE School, near Worthing, and Rumboldswhyke CE Infant School, Chichester, by September 2020.

The matter was scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of the Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Committee on April 7, with a decision due to be made at a meeting of the Cabinet on April 21.

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Both meetings have been cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and he will instead discuss the situation with cabinet colleagues.

In addition, a Task and Finish group made up of councillors who sit on the scrutiny committee will meet ‘virtually’ on April 7 to look at consultation feedback.

Concerned parents from Rumboldswhyke and Clapham and Patching schools have already written a letter saying they felt the consultation feedback wouldn’t be properly considered if the full county council meeting originally scheduled for Friday (April 3) was cancelled.

As well as the two closures, the council plans to continue working with governors at Stedham Primary and Harting CE Primary on their plans to form a federation; work with governors at Compton and Up Marden CE Primary on their federation plans; and to relocate Warninglid Primary to a new site in Pease Pottage by September 2021.

Mr Jupp said: “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to consultations on the future of these schools. Along with my fellow cabinet members, I am now carefully considering the feedback in appreciation of the significance of these decisions.

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, we are keen to ensure the decisions on these schools are not delayed and impact on the start of the new academic year.

“For everyone who may be affected, council staff will continue to work with parents, carers and pupils to meet their needs and, if required their transition to suitable alternatives.”

While the council said the Task and Finish Group would help it ‘carry out the decision-making process in the most open and transparent way under the current circumstances’, there will be no way for the public to listen in to the meeting.

The group’s recommendations and a summary of the meeting will be published shortly afterwards.

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