County Council proposals welcomed by Worthing school communities

Proposed plans to improve the organisation of primary schools in Worthing and Durrington are moving forward following feedback from the local community.

Declining pupil numbers mean that around 1,500 primary school places are unfilled, which makes it difficult for schools to plan for the future and make best use of staffing and resources.

At the request of school leaders in the borough, West Sussex County Council has been working together with schools for many months to address the issue.

In total, 697 people took part online in an eight-week consultation on proposals put forward, with many more writing directly to the County Council’s cabinet member for Learning & Skills.

The overwhelming majority of those who responded supported the proposal to merge Chesswood Junior and Lyndhurst Infants into one ‘all-through’ primary school on the Chesswood site, leaving Springfield Infants unchanged as a standalone infant school.

As a result, the County Council is recommending this option for approval, as outlined in papers published today.

Councillor Nigel Jupp, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Learning & Skills, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation. It’s an important democratic process that will help shape the future of primary education across Worthing and Durrington, so it’s encouraging that so many people took the time to contribute their views. We’ve listened carefully and taken on board the feedback.

“Unfilled places make it difficult for schools to manage staffing, resourcing and financial arrangements, which in turn affects education and learning for our children.

“The County Council has been acting on a request from schools across Worthing and Durrington to address the issue, working together with them for many months now to propose solutions.

“The extensive feedback has given us a much better understanding of the community’s position and how the County Council can support schools to deliver a high-quality education that enables pupils to fulfil their potential.

“I’m pleased therefore that we have a way forward, with the recommendation to merge Chesswood Infants and Lyndhurst Junior into a new primary school, and for Springfield Infants to remain a standalone school.”

Next steps

The consultation responses and resulting recommendations will be discussed at a meeting of the Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 1 March.

Papers for the meeting are being published today on West Sussex County Council’s website, where residents will also be able to watch the meeting live on 1 March or at a later date.

Any recommendations from the meeting will be considered ahead of a decision, with a second phase of consultation to follow.

Decisions from consultation

The consultation, which ran from 28 November 2022 to 20 January 2023, also considered reducing pupil admission numbers at six schools in the borough.

The proportion of respondents supporting the reduction far outweighed those who did not. Therefore, the decision was taken to reduce the number by 623 places across the six schools:

• Durrington Infant School to reduce by 90 places
• Durrington Junior School to reduce by 120 places
• Field Place Infant School to reduce by 90 places
• Thomas A Becket Infant School to reduce by 90 places
• Thomas A Becket Junior School to reduce by 128 places
• Whytemead Primary School to reduce by 105 places

Reduced admissions will be introduced from September 2024 in the infant and primary schools and from 2027 in the junior schools as the reduced numbers feed through from the infant schools.