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Teachers strike over proposed school closures

27 May 2016

PAUL FARMER/COMMONS

Walk-out: Rodmell C of E primary school

Walk-out: Rodmell C of E primary school

TEACHERS at two Church of England schools in East Sussex walked out on Wednesday in protest at plans to close their schools.

The teachers, who are members of the National Union of Teachers, went on strike over plans to close Rodmell C of E Primary School, and Pells C of E Primary School. They protested outside County Hall, and were joined by parents who supported the action.

Pupil numbers at Rodmell have fallen to 48 — 15 under capacity — but are due to rise sharply by 2020, when the school is likely to be oversubscribed, the NUT said. It is rated “”Good” by OFSTED; Pells is rated as “Requiring improvement”.

East Sussex County Council said, however, that Rodmell did not have enough children in its normal catchment area, and children would be travelling in from areas such as Newhaven, Peacehaven, and Seaford to take spaces.

Although it had received a Good rating in its latest OFSTED report, the Council said that its attainment at Key Stage 2 has been below the national average for the past three years.

It also said that the school had not been able to balance its budget this year “and it is unlikely that they will be able to in the next three years. Even if the school is full, it is very small, and this creates budget challenges. The head teacher has recently resigned, with effect from end of August 2016. We think the school will struggle to attract a high-quality head teacher, given its circumstances and the local and national recruitment challenges.

“The diocese of Chichester shares the concerns outlined above, and has agreed that the Council should consult with key stakeholders about the proposed closure of the school.”

A consultation on the proposed closure ended today, and a decision is expected in the autumn.

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