A reorganisation of schools in Storrington and the surrounding areas will now move to the next stage following a decision by the County Council.
The STARS area, as it is known locally, is the last remaining location in West Sussex where schools are not organised in line with the Key Stages of the National Curriculum. Across the rest of the county, and most of the country, pupils transfer to secondary schools at the end of Key Stage 2 (11 years old).
An initial public consultation took place last year when parents, schools and the local community were asked to give their views on the approach to education in the area and whether there should be a change to the age at which pupils transfer to secondary schools.
Following this a further consultation on specific proposals for each school in the area was held earlier this year.
The proposals, which have now been endorsed by West Sussex Council County’s Leader Louise Goldsmith on behalf of the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills Richard Burrett, are to:
• Increase the age range from age 4–10 (Year R–Year 5) to become age 4-11 (Year R-Year 6) primary schools at Amberley CE First School, Ashington CE First School, St Mary’s CE First School, Washington, Storrington First School and West Chiltington First School.
• Increase the Published Admission Number from 14 to 15 and increase the age range at Thakeham First School from age 4–10 (Year R–Year 5) to become an age 4-11 (Year R-Year 6) primary school and relocate the school to buildings appropriate for primary phase education in part of the current Rydon Community College campus in Rock Road, Thakeham.
• Close Rydon Community College with effect from 31 August 2017 and open a second site of Steyning Grammar School in part of the current Rydon Community College Campus in Rock Road, Thakeham, providing education provision for the age range 11-12 (Year 7 and Year 8).
Louise Goldsmith said: “This has not been an easy decision to make. But we have listened very carefully to the opinions and arguments from all sides before endorsing this officer recommendation.
“Having weighed up all the information and fully discussed it with the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, I strongly believe this reorganisation will offer an improved education to current and future generations and will protect them from the negative effects which occur when pupils transfer between different schools.
“It has been very apparent that local people have a strong affection for Rydon Community College and many fond memories. I totally respect that and know that some will be very disappointed.
“However, the important issues are the future needs of young people in the STARS area.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the proposals will significantly benefit future pupils. This has been demonstrated in the strong support we have seen from nearly all head teachers and governors for all first schools to provide a full primary education and for Rydon Community College to become a Year 7 and 8 annex of Steyning Grammar School.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation exercises. We have listened and acted on views where possible.
“I hope in time anyone with any remaining concerns will see for themselves the benefits this improved system will offer.”
Following this decision, statutory notices, which are required by law when changes to a school are proposed, will now be published. This will allow for an additional 28 days of consultation.
The changes are due to come into effect for September 2017.
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