Teachers to strike over Lewes school closure threat

Rodmell school facing closure SUS-160316-231343008
Rodmell school facing closure SUS-160316-231343008

Teachers from a Lewes school facing the threat of closure are set to take part in strike action next week.

Staff at Rodmell Primary School will hold a full-day walkout on Wednesday, May 25 in protest against East Sussex County Council proposals to close down the school.

Last week, councillors voted against the proposals to close both Rodmell and Pells Primary schools after a petition opposing the plans gathered more than 5,000 signatures.

While most councillors voted to stop the closures, the ultimate decision will be made by a member of the council’s cabinet.

Phil Clarke Secretary of the Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden National Union of Teachers (NUT) said: “All the teachers at Rodmell have voted to take this action because they know this successful school, which is due to be oversubscribed by 2020, is worth fighting to save.

“We know we have parental support for this action and will be working with parents on the day to campaign to keep our small schools open. It is fundamentally undemocratic that a small group of councillors can overrule the vote of the whole council. We call on the cabinet members to respect the view of our elected representatives and not move to close Rodmell and Pells schools.”

The council says it is considering the closures as a result of low admissions numbers at both schools and concerns about hiring a new head teacher for Pells School, which has been without a permanent head since 2015.

Rodmell also needs a new headteacher to start this year.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “While we understand the concerns people have, we are disappointed teachers at Rodmell have opted to take industrial action.

“It’s important to stress that no decision has been made yet. The consultations on the two proposed closures run until Friday, May 27 and we’d urge people who feel strongly on this issue to use the consultations to make their voices heard.

“Like most councils in the country, we operate a cabinet system which means that most decisions are taken by cabinet, or delegated to lead members.

“A decision on the two proposed school closures is due to be made by cabinet on Tuesday, July 19 and will only be taken after members have carefully considered all the responses to the consultations and the recommendation made by full council earlier this month.”

If the plans are approved both schools will close by August 31 2017

A public consultation on the plans closes on Friday, May 27. It is available on the East Sussex County Council website.

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