Protest against proposed school closures

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West Sussex County Council has been asked to drop plans to close one school, postpone plans to close a second and explore academy options for a third.

Members of the children and young person’s scrutiny committee were not happy with proposals for Stedham, Clapham & Patching and Rumboldswhyke schools, all of which face closure by September.

Stedham near Midhurst is already looking to join a federation, and members were told school leaders were worried about having to hurry the process to beat the council’s closure timeline.

Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for education and skills, was asked to take closure for Stedham off the table and instead help to progress the plans for federation.

As for Clapham & Patching near Worthing, a postponement was called for to help the school and officers explore all options available other than closure.

Things have looked bleak for Rumboldswhyke in Chichester, with the council seemingly set on closure.

But Jamie Fitzjohn (Con, Chichester South) hit out at the way the issue had been dealt with, accusing the council of pre-determination.

Mr Fitzjohn said an email had been sent to the Regional Schools Commissioner on June 14 which said the aim of the council was to close the school.

He told the meeting: “The decision was pre-determined and I don’t think that’s allowed.”

The committee asked Mr Jupp to look into academisation for Rumboldswhyke rather than closure.

There was applause from the public gallery as the recommendations were made – but the issue will be put to a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday (January 14) where Mr Jupp and others are under no obligation to agree with them.