A mother who started a 650-strong petition against the closure of a Lewes primary school has said shutting it down would ‘cause huge disruption and sever children’s friendships’.
Emily Wiles, whose three children Ben, age ten, Charlie, age seven, and Eryn, age six, all attend Pells School, started the petition after learning of the council’s plans to seek approval for a consultation on its closure.
Ms Wiles said: “We were all really upset, and quite cross, when we found out.
“It’s all because of money. If it’s because the council want all children to be taught at ‘good’ schools, then why close Rodmell as well?
“I just think all kids are different and need a different school environment. Eryn has immune deficiencies which means she can’t use public transport and cannot go to a large school, otherwise she could get really ill.
“It’s not that we don’t want change. Pells has quite a bad reputation but we don’t believe the council are doing anything to rectify that.
“The school needs re-branding, good press and some positive input from the council. Those would be changes we could support.
“It’s almost like the council aren’t giving Caroline Lamb the chance.
“She’s the interim head and she is doing an amazing job. She’s doing everything she can and she really cares.
“It’s like a little family at Pells, it’s not just a school.
“My kids have only been there for two years and they were welcomed in with open arms. If the school was to close, it wouldn’t just cause huge disruption, it would be severing friendships.”
The petition gathered hundreds of signatures in the space of a couple of days. To sign it, visit www.change.org/p/nick-bennett-save-pells-school.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “The Pells CofE Primary School has struggled with weak performance for many years.
“During this time the local authority has provided significant additional finance and support to help the school to address the issues.
“However, despite the best endeavours of school and local authority, working alongside support from other schools in East Sussex, the Pells has been unable to sustain improvements in standards and outcomes for children at the school.
“We will continue to provide support for the school to help it secure the best possible outcomes for the pupils.”
A second petition set up opposing the closure of Rodmell School has also been signed by hundreds of people in the past few days.
The school, which is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, is said to not be ‘financially sustainable’ and is already looking at reducing the class numbers.
A spokesperson from Rodmell School said: “The planned closures will uproot our children and disperse them into other primary schools in Lewes that are already oversubscribed. We are concerned if they manage to close these schools, surely more small schools will be at risk in the future.
“We have been given very little time by the council to organise a protest and would implore the public to get behind our campaign to save our schools. We want people in Lewes to realise that this affects their children as well as the 130 children will have to be placed in to Lewes schools that are already to full and over-stretched.”
Rodmell parent Karen Webber added: “For the sake of all Lewes children, we would ask members of the public to sign the petitions.”
To sign the Rodmell School petition, which stands at 534 signatories, see www.change.org/p/councillor-nick-bennett-stop-east-sussex-county-council-s-plans-to-shut-rodmell-c-of-e-school.
On Saturday, March 19, the groups will be in Lewes High Street between 10am and 1pm, canvassing for signatures on the petitions.
On Monday, March 21, from 1.40pm, a group of parents will stage a protest outside County Hall before handing in the petition to Councillor Nick Bennett at 2.30pm, during the meeting where he will present his findings.
There is also a protest march planned for April 9 through the town, to finish in the park opposite Pells.
Visit the ‘Save Our Sussex Schools’ Facebook page for more information.
Click here for more information on the closure plans.
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