Threat of closure


Clapham & Patching School is one of five small schools in West Sussex which are being considered by WSCC for possible closure (or alternatives, such as relocation, joining forces with other schools, or becoming an Academy).  Sadly, very few of the pupils at our School actually come from the existing catchment area, although the attention given to pupils with special needs is hugely appreciated, as many parents have pointed out.



 
 

The 'Academy' proposal

The South Downs Education Trust is keen to include our School in their organisation, turning into an Academy.  The School staff, its governors and the diocese are all strongly in support of the proposal (as, apparently, are the WSCC cabinet.  However, it seems that only after a decision to close has been made by WSCC (which will be taken at their Cabinet meeting on 22 April) can the idea of 'academisation' be formally considered.

 
What you can do

 

Please ‘Have Your Say’ - https://haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/strategic-planning-and-place/claphamandpatching/consultation/intro/ - the consultation period runs until 16th March. 

The more responses there are, the more impact they will have.  And they must go via the link above if they are to count!

 

Things you might like to mention could include:

  • The importance of the School to the community (including any memories you may have of the school children participating in community events)

  • The Academisation proposal

  • The possibility of enlarging the catchment area (e.g. to the East towards Durrington)

  • The biased nature of the survey itself

 

 

What the Parish Council has been doing

 

Since the ‘proposed reorganisation of rural and small schools in West Sussex’ was announced in October 2019.  Clapham Parish Council has been committed both to safeguarding both the future of the school and to ensuring its continued presence in the village.   A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, so just to keep everyone informed…

 

 

 

  • 8th October 2019

Cllr.Ray joined a public meeting at The Angmering School.

 

  • 24th October 2019

An extraordinary Council meeting was held to discuss the proposed reorganisation and agree a formal response. An email was sent to Nick Herbert, as the then MP for Arundel and South Downs, setting out the Council's full support for 5 of the proposed options and confirming that it was strongly opposed to either closure or relocation. The Council also shared its position with the neighbouring Parish Council of Patching.

 

  • 31st October 2019

The Council responded to the formal consultation process as part of 'Have Your Say', and wrote to every household in the parish to encourage residents to participate too.

 

  • 6th January 2020

Various media reports alerted the Council that a decision had been reached regarding the future of the school, and it wrote immediately to the new MP for Arundel and South Downs, Andrew Griffith, to express both its concern and also its resolve to find a way to save the school whilst retaining its identity in the village, forming an integral part of the community.

 

  • 7th January 2020

The Council wrote to Cllr. David Barling, Chairman of the Children and Young People's Services Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Kirsty Lord as its Vice-Chairman  and also Cllr Nigel Jupp, as the Cabinet Member for Education & Skills, who responded providing details of the Cabinet Meeting 14/1/20. 

 

  • 9th January 2020

Cllrs. Ray and Gale attended a meeting at the school, during which it became clear that Worthing High School (as part of the South Downs Educational Trust) was exploring the possibility of academisation. The Council was asked to outline its role in the consultation process and the basis of its support for the school’s future as part of the progress towards academisation.

 

  • 14th January 2020

Cllr. Urquhart secured an amendment to the proposed resolution to consult on the closure of the  school “whilst continuing to discuss academisation proposals which the County Council will encourage and support”. 

 

  • 24th January 2020

Andrew Griffith, as the newly elected MP for Arundel and South Downs, welcomed parents and carers as they arrived at the school,to discuss issues first hand.

 

  • 11th February 2020

The council met with members of WSCC’s School Organisation & Development team to help formulate a Community Impact Statement.

 

  • 12th February 2020

A public meeting at The Angmering School was attended by many parents and villagers, including two members of the Council;  Cllr Kelly made a statement in support of the School.

What if we fail?

If no viable proposal is forthcoming to keep the School open, WSCC has to make an application to the Secretary of State for the land to be taken out of 'educational use'.  Once this is approved, the Diocese can do what it thinks best with the buildings and land.   However, the buildings have been registered, through the Clapham Neighbourhood Development Plan, as an 'Asset of Community Value'.  This means that the community would have an opportunity to buy the buildings if a suitable deal could be put together.  But let's hope it doesn't come to that.

 

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