Parents fight planned Elm Grove catchment

W48871H13''Parents out side Elm Grove First School Protesting about the new catchment area
W48871H13''Parents out side Elm Grove First School Protesting about the new catchment area

THE head teacher of Elm Grove First School in Worthing says she has “huge concerns” over proposals to change schooling in the town.

Pauline Warren said in a letter to parents that she was surprised to hear that the school could become a three form entry infant school, with children transferring to Thomas A Becket Junior School at the end of year two.

She said that her preferred options were for Elm Grove to be a one or 1.5 form entry primary school or for Elm Grove and Goring to convert to infant schools with West Park as the junior school.

More than 105 people have already signed an online petition against the changes being suggested by West Sussex County Council, which launched a consultation regarding a change in catchment areas, capacities and age of transfer for all schools in the town, earlier this month.

Parent Sasha Scambler said: “The changes in catchment will damage the local community which will be artificially split down the middle.

“Many parents chose where to locate their families because of the local schools that they wanted to send their children to and the knock on effects of these changes could be significant.

“Elm Grove prides itself on being a community school and this could destroy a school which Ofsted rates as Outstanding. Whilst no one is disputing that Thomas A Becket is a good school it is not our community school.

“Lots of us already have (or will have) older children at West Park which is 1.8 miles from Thomas A Becket, approximately a 40 minute walk. “Siblings will lose out on the shared school identity, friendships, teachers and community that families wanted for them. It is very important to many families that siblings are able to attend the same school.

“We believe that Elm Grove school, children and families are being sacrificed for the convenience of the council.”

Worthing Green Party spokesman James Doyle said: “The county council has been raising hopes for parents and children with their much-heralded plan to change over to primary and secondary schools, but reading the consultation document it’s clear that the plan misses its own targets, as well as failing to deliver school places where they are most needed.

“Over the past decade, there has been massive growth in the demand for school places in the town centre, with the pre-school population rising by 63 per cent. But across the three town centre schools (Heene, St Mary’s and Elm Grove) the number of places in each school year will actually be dropping from 210 to 195.

“The squeeze on town centre places is going to get worse under this plan. Having extra places at Lyndhurst or West Park isn’t going to address the most pressing need.”

The petition can be found at http://epetition.westsussex.public-i.tv/epetition_core/community/petition/2493