Rodmell’s primary school could be handed a reprieve but Pells is set to close

March to demonstrate against Pells and Rodmell schools closing SUS-161004-224155008
March to demonstrate against Pells and Rodmell schools closing SUS-161004-224155008

Rodmell’s primary school could be handed a temporary reprieve from closure, but Pells Church of England Primary School looks set to be shut by the county council.

East Sussex County Council consulted on proposals to close both earlier this year, but the authority’s Cabinet is due to make a final decision next Tuesday (July 19).

The current proposal would see Rodmell Church of England Primary School more time to explore partnership possibilities to avoid closure, but Pells is set to close.

A spokesperson for Rodmell said: “We are obviously very pleased that the local authority are going to recommend to East Sussex County Council cabinet to halt the proposed closure of Rodmell CEP School.

“We believe we have a very happy and educationally fulfilling school.”

Stuart Gallimore, director of children services at East Sussex County Council, said: “Recommending the closure of a school is not a decision we take lightly, but we need to ensure that every child in East Sussex is given the best possible education and able to reach their full potential.

“We have carefully considered the views of parents, teachers and the wider community and looked into every alternative option put forward before making these recommendations to Cabinet.

The proposals are the result of a thorough review of primary schools in the Lewes area to ensure there are enough places to meet future demand and schools can provide high quality education for years to come.

During the consultation period Rodmell CE Primary School identified possible partnerships and officers are recommending that Cabinet give the school until the beginning of May 2017 to submit a firm proposal.

Alternative plans for the village school put forward by the Save Our Schools campaign group were evaluated by officers, but it was concluded by the council that this proposal was not viable and would not address the challenges faced by the school.

The suggestion of a farm school approach for Pells Church of England Primary School has been evaluated by officers, but they concluded that it was unlikely to bring about the rapid improvements needed or address the low pupil numbers experienced at the school over many years.

Cabinet will be asked to consider starting the process of closing Pells, which will involve a four week period of representation before a final decision on the proposal.

Speaking from Westminster, Maria Caulfied, Lewes MP, said: “I welcome the report provided by the director of children’s services on Rodmell Primary School, however, remain concerned at the suggestion which will see the closure of Pells Primary School in August 2017.”

“At a time when there is a growing shortage of school places within the county, I would question the harmful effect that closing either of these two primary schools could have on both students and parents locally”.

“Furthermore, as with most local facilities, primary schools are vital to our communities, and the closure of either Pells or Rodmell Primary Schools could be damaging to both of the areas in which they are situated.”

“I would therefore strongly urge members of East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet to secure the future of both of these schools when they meet on the 19th.”

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