Council’s school plan is ‘kick in the teeth’

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THE head teacher of Orchards Middle School says that West Sussex County Council’s planned changes to Worthing’s school system ‘feels like a kick in the teeth.’

West Sussex County Council is halfway through a consultation regarding a change in catchment areas, capacities and the age of transfer for schools across the town.

Dr Paul Jones wants to make parents aware of proposals that would see Orchards reduced by 120 pupils with four forms of entry and change to become a junior school.

He said: “This would be restrictive because there would be a significant budget loss for us as well as losing staff.

“It is a situation that could happen through no fault of our own so we are trying to make as many people aware of what the changes would mean.

“This could affect the quality of the provision that we put out which we are very proud of at the moment.

“We want to fight to stay as we are in terms of size and the opportunity to continue with what we are doing which is offering a really good broad education.

“This is something we did not anticipate happening. We have invested more than £1 million over the last three years to improve facilities and this feels like a kick in the teeth.”

IT manager Dave Butler said the plans had ‘little to do with children’s educational outcomes.’

He said: “This whole change appears to be more about neatening up the schools structure than it does about meeting children’s educational needs.

“In our meeting things got incredibly passionate and some parents were crying, but we were told that we have to think about the whole of Worthing and not just about our children.

“That felt very wrong. I feel like we are saying that we would rather be mediocre and neat than different and good.

“Orchard generally is a very good school and the main concerns are that currently we have five classes in each form group.

“The benefits of having more than just one form are great. If there is more than one form then there is the opportunity to swap teachers between the classes according to their skill set, but I do not see how any swapping could happen in smaller schools.”