Views sought on Newhaven schools merging

CONSULTATION is to begin on the effective closure of Southdown Junior School and expansion of Grays Infants School to create a new primary school in Newhaven.

The school would initially operate from both sites, with the aim to move to the Church Hill Southdown site.

An East Sussex County Council Lead Members for Children’s Services meeting last Tuesday (April 17) heard the schools had ‘forged an effective partnership and made excellent progress together’.

Both have had the same headteacher, Christine Terrey, since December 2010, after Southdown was taken into special measures by Ofsted and councillors heard the aim was to build on that success.

Cllr David Elkin agreed to open consultation with parents and residents to bring together the infants, aged three to seven, and juniors, aged seven to 11.

“In my view bringing these two schools together makes absolute sense,” he said. “We are really keen to build on the excellent progress that has been made by the headteacher and her team and it seems an obvious step.”

He added the County Council had a policy of creating all-through primary schools from existing infants and junior schools when an opportunity arose and it was appropriate.

“We know that both nationally and locally all-through primary schools, in the main, achieve higher standards than separate infant and junior schools.

“This is because pupils benefit from single leadership and management and better continuity of learning.

“We know parents have welcomed the progress made by the partnership between the schools and we believe this would be a positive step for Newhaven.

“However, this consultation is an important opportunity for people to give us their views.”

The council would have to effectively close Southdown Junior School and expand the age range of Grays Infant School, Western Road, to three to 11.

Christine Terrey said she was excited about the prospect and looking forward to hearing parents’ views and discussing the possibilities.

“While I recognise this would be a significant change, it would be led and managed by our outstanding staff team with sensitivity and enthusiasm,” she said. “I want to continue working across the full age range of pupils from nursery to year six, as well as their families.”