The historic change to Worthing’s school system has been hailed a huge success by headteachers, parents and county council leaders.
All the town’s schools have now been reorganised into a two-tier primary (or infant and junior)/secondary system from a three-tier first/middle/secondary system.
The changes made to the ‘age of transfer’ mean children only having to move schools once rather than twice, starting secondary school aged 11 rather than attend a middle school until 13.
The change brings Worthing’s education system in line with the vast majority of schools throughout the country, which operate the two-tier system, and in line with how the national curriculum works.
Jeremy Hunt, the council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “This is fantastic news for our children, our parents and our schools because it gives young people the best start in life, one of the county council’s key priorities.
“National research, which is supported by evidence in West Sussex, shows that children make better progress if they change school in line with the key stages and, where possible, less often.
“I would also like to thank those involved in this age of transfer, the heads, their staff and the county council officers, for all the hard work and effort that has gone into making this change such a seamless operation.
“I appreciate that there were no doubt some glitches along the way, but overall this has been a great success.
“And finally, I would like to welcome the new Bohunt Academy to Worthing. The new secondary school is an exciting addition to the town and can only help to strengthen what is already an excellent level of secondary education provided by our existing schools.”
Clare Jee, headteacher at Goring Church of England Primary School, said: “The change has been very successful and it means our children can now stay with us for seven years and then transfer to secondary.
“We are very confident that the long term learning outcomes for our children will be improved, which was the main driver for change.”
Mrs Jee, whose school will move from a two form entry First School to a two form entry Primary School, added: “We’ve had a very positive response from parents, and many people have worked extremely hard to make sure the project was completed on time.”
The county council secured an investment package of around £30m to reorganise schools in the Worthing area and accommodate a growing number of pupils. This package is made up of a £20m Government grant and an investment of £10m from the county council’s own resources.
Chris Keating, headteacher at Davison CE High School for Girls, said: “I am delighted to welcome a full cohort of Year 7 students into Davison CE High School for Girls for the first time. The change has enabled us to extensively develop both our facilities and curriculum offer for students.
“We are now able to offer ourselves for consideration to a larger catchment area and develop good partnerships with additional primary school partners.”
More than three-quarters (76.6%) of residents who responded to a council consultation said they supported the changes, meaning children would start secondary school at 11, in line with the start of KS3, instead of 12.
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