MP and council 'surprised' by school closure

Rodmell children at their 'pop-up' school
Rodmell children at their 'pop-up' school

Officers at East Sussex County Council said they were "extremely surprised" by the decision of governors to close Rodmell Primary School.

News of the decision to close came 10 months after the council launched a consultation into closing both Rodmell and Pells Primary Schools, claiming both had struggled to attract enough children and to stay financially stable.

After months of fighting the proposal, Rodmell’s board of governors met on January 17 and unanimously voted that the future of the school was no longer viable and it would close at the end of August 2018.

The council had given the school until May to submit a firm proposal for staying open but the governors felt delaying the decision until then was “only going to cause distress to the pupils and families at the school”.

A council spokesman said he was “extremely surprised” by the governing body’s decision, adding: “We believed they were engaged in looking at options for a partnership model which would be presented to the local authority by the end of term four.

"We had no indication from the governing body that it was about to take this decision.

“While we are very surprised by the timing of the decision, we recognise the governing body’s wish to close the school and the reasons for doing so.

“We will support the governing body through the relevant statutory processes which must be followed, as set out in legislation.”

In a statement, Rodmell’s chair of governors the Rev Geoff Daw, and parent governor Rob Webber said: “We will be offering our full support to parents as they try to find places for their children and hope that East Sussex County Council will do the same.

“We would like to thank the parents and pupils for the unbelievable support and hard work they have given the school and the loyalty they have shown in staying for the fight to save the school and deeply regret that we were unable to save it.”

The council confirmed: “The best interests of the children at the school remain our priority during this difficult time.”

The fight to stay open saw parents and children march through the streets of Lewes in April, brandishing hand-made signs calling for the county council to stop closing small schools. And at a crunch meeting at county hall, youngsters set up a ‘pop up school’ outside.

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, called the decision to close “surprising and regretful”.

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