Plans for Worthing ‘all-through’ primary school move forward

Eight-week consultation highlighted overwhelming support for the proposal to amalgamate Chesswood Junior and Lyndhurst Infants schools.

Plans are moving forward for an ‘all-through’ primary school in Worthing as part of West Sussex County Council’s work to support schools to manage unfilled pupil places.

Declining pupil numbers mean that around 1,500 primary school places are unfilled across the Worthing borough. This 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 primary schools for many months to address the issue.

The excellent response from the community to an eight-week consultation on options highlighted overwhelming support for the proposal to amalgamate Chesswood Junior and Lyndhurst Infants into one ‘all-through’ primary school on the Chesswood site, leaving Springfield Infants as a standalone school.

This proposal was supported by members of the county council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 1 March. After considering views from the consultation and the committee, Councillor Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Learning & Skills, has taken the decision to proceed with this option, subject to a call-in period. After this, there will be a further six-week consultation where everyone involved will have the opportunity to have a say on details of the planned amalgamation of Chesswood and Lyndhurst.

Cllr Jupp said: “Thank you again to everyone who’s been involved in progressing this important work. The plans we have in place represent months of ongoing hard work with primary schools across Worthing and Durrington, who asked the county council to help resolve the issue of declining pupil numbers.

“I am pleased to be able to take the decision to move forward with an ‘all-through’ school, amalgamating Chesswood Junior and Lyndhurst Infants, while keep Springfield Infants as a standalone school, with the support of community as demonstrated through our consultation.

“It follows the previous decisions following the consultation to reduce pupil admission numbers across six primary schools.

“It means we are on track to reducing the number of unfilled places as swiftly as possible, provide greater stability and ensure we maintain the best possible environment in which our children can learn and fulfil their potential.”

West Sussex County Council will also continue to explore options to create a new eight-place Special Support Centre at either Downsbrook Primary or Whytemead Primary schools, to provide additional places for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

A final decision following the six-week consultation is due in late spring, after which further discussions with all schools in the borough will follow, with time to work through details of the arrangements for the ‘all-through’ school to start admitting pupils from September 2024.