Proposed closure of Fletching school ‘will be strongly resisted’

Meeting to hear about proposed closure of Fletching CE Primary School
Meeting to hear about proposed closure of Fletching CE Primary School

A Fletching school could be shut as part of a county council review.

The proposals, which follow an extensive review of places at 62 rural schools across the county, are to close both Broad Oak Community Primary School near Heathfield and Fletching CE Primary School by August 2020.

Fletching Primary School (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

Fletching Primary School (Photo from Google Maps Street View)

East Sussex County Council says the closure of the two schools would reduce the number of surplus places in each area and have a positive impact on other local schools and the provision they can make for all pupils.

A consultation on the proposals would be held before a final decision is made.

Jenny Barnard-Langston, chair of governors at Fletching Primary School, said the closure plans would be ‘strongly resisted’ by governors, parents and the village community.

She said: “Fletching Primary School is the beating heart of the village.

“Ofsted Inspectors say of this school:

“As a small school, Fletching focuses upon developing the individual and staff know each child well. The nurturing environment enables staff to find the best in every pupil, creating self-belief and confidence, which in turn impacts upon academic progress and personal development. Nurture groups support vulnerable learners and help them thrive.

“Why then would the council want to close this Good school? Small is beautiful and we intend to keep it that way.”

County councillor Roy Galley, who represents Fletching, said: “This is an appalling decision by officers and I hope the lead member can be persuaded to stop any consultation.

“I will be working with Fletching residents to try and ensure a change of direction.”

A meeting to hear how governors were going to fight the proposed closure was held at Fletching’s village hall on Monday night and attended by more than 100 people.

‘DOING NOTHING WILL NOT ALLEVIATE PROBLEMS’

Stuart Gallimore, the council’s director for children’s services, said: “The council has a statutory duty to ensure that schools are in the right location, are of sufficient size, and are financially able to deliver a high quality education that meets the needs of their local community. We are committed to working in close partnership with schools, the dioceses and key partners to achieve this.

“I understand the enormity of these proposals for pupils and their parents, school staff and communities, but doing nothing will not alleviate the problems these schools face, and could lead to more widespread uncertainty and difficulties for other schools in the local area.”

SURPLUS SPACES

Broad Oak Community Primary School has been undersubscribed for the last five years. The school has 81 pupils against a capacity of 140, with nearly two thirds of pupils at the school living outside the school’s community area. For admissions purposes the Heathfield community area will be extended to incorporate the Broad Oak community area.

Surplus spaces at Fletching CE Primary School are expected to increase from 34 per cent to 40 per cent by 2021. Currently 71 children attend the school, which has a capacity of 105, and nearly two thirds live outside the school’s community area.

The school has been undersubscribed for the last five years. For admissions purposes the Fletching community area will be merged with the St Peter’s Chailey CE Primary School community area.

The Diocese of Chichester, as equal partner, has taken a full role in the review of school places and fully supports the proposals being recommended.

Reviews were also carried out in the Alfriston, Battle, Ringmer, Robertsbridge, rural Crowborough, rural Hailsham, rural Uckfield, Rye, South Chailey and Wadhurst areas. The reviews concluded that no school closures are required in these areas.

On Monday June 24 the county council’s lead member for education and ISEND will be asked to approve a consultation on school organisation changes in two parts of the county.

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A website has been launched by campaigners looking to save the school.