A proposal to close Rydon Community College and open a second site of Steyning Grammar School for Year 7 and 8 pupils has been confirmed by West Sussex County Council.
The new Steyning Grammar School education provision will open in September 2017 and operate from part of the current Rydon Community College Campus in Rock Road, Storrington.
County Council Leader, Louise Goldsmith, and Chief Executive, Nathan Elvery, confirmed the plans yesterday during a personal visit to Rydon Community College, Thakeham First School and Steyning Grammar School.
The announcement is the final stage of a reorganisation of schools in Storrington and the surrounding areas.
The STARS area, as it is known locally, is the last remaining location in West Sussex where schools are not organised in line with the Key Stages of the National Curriculum.
Across the rest of the county, and most of the country, pupils transfer to secondary schools at the end of Key Stage 2 (11 years old).
However, the STARS area currently has a different structure which means children transfer to a new school in Year 6 (10 years old) in the middle of Key Stage 2.
A four week representation period was held from May 19 and June 16 this year after official ‘statutory notices’ were published of the closure proposals.
An initial public consultation took place last year when parents, schools and the local community were asked to give their views on the approach to education across the whole STARS area.
There was then a further consultation on specific proposals for each school.
Following this second consultation the Leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith, endorsed proposals for the move of Year 6 to First Schools, creating primary schools, and the relocation of Thakeham Primary School to the Rydon site.
The decision was taken by the Leader rather than the Cabinet Member for Education, Richard Burrett, due to illness.
Louise Goldsmith said: “I have looked very carefully at all the information which has been submitted, not just during this formal representation period, but also throughout the whole consultation period.
“I have considered all the views and opinions put forward and I still strongly believe that our proposals will offer the best future education system for young people in Storrington and the surrounding areas.
“I have met with Rydon Community College yesterday, along with our Chief Executive, and have explained that we will now be taking forward our proposal to close the school.”
Louise and Nathan also visited Steyning Grammar School and Thakeham First School yesterday to explain the news to them. Following the visits they will be writing to parents and pupils to set out what happens next.
Louise added: “There will be a 12 month transition period now where we will work with the schools, the community and partners to make sure we have a strong, successful system in place for September 2017.
“This has not been an easy decision to make. However, as I‘ve said before I absolutely believe this reorganisation will offer an improved education, not only to current pupils but also to future generations. This has always been the most important factor for us.
“I am very aware of the strong feeling from some of the local community about Rydon Community College. I respect and acknowledge this feeling and realise that many will be disappointed.
“However, we are determined to get the best for our children and also to work with the community to ensure they can continue to make use of the facilities on the site.
“This is the right model to be adopting. Now is the time to look to the future not the past and there is no doubt in my mind that the proposals will significantly benefit future pupils, a view backed up by nearly all head teachers and governors of the local first schools.”
The full list of the confirmed proposals is as follows:
• Increase the age range from age 4–10 (Year R–Year 5) to become age 4-11 (Year R-Year 6) primary schools at Amberley CE First School, Ashington CE First School, St Mary’s CE First School, Washington, Storrington First School and West Chiltington Community First School.
• Increase the Published Admission Number of Thakeham First School from 14 to 15 and increase the age range from age 4–10 (Year R–Year 5) to become an age 4-11 (Year R-Year 6) primary school and relocate the school to buildings appropriate for primary phase education in part of the current Rydon Community College campus in Rock Road, Storrington.
• Close Rydon Community College with effect from 31 August 2017 and open a second site of Steyning Grammar School for Years 7 and 8 in part of the current Rydon Community College Campus in Rock Road, Storrington, with effect from 1 September 2017.
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