FAQs

This section of our website attempts to answer some of the many questions that we’ve been asked. It is broken down into sections based on the context of the question.

If you have a question that is not answered in this section of the site please get in touch with us at savefletchingschool@gmail.com

Questions from the Public Meeting on 17th June

Below is a list of questions asked at the Public Meeting on the 17th June and other questions that have been asked by the community.

What do I need to do now?

We really want a big turn out on the 24th June for the meeting at County Hall, Lewes. The meeting starts at 10am. Please support us!

Why do the Council want to close the School?

East Sussex County Council undertook a review on small schools and have decided that two of the very small schools in the area do not meet their financial criteria to stay open. There has been no obvious consideration of the less binary benefits that the school brings to the community.

What is Councillor Bob Standley's qualification for deciding on the need to begin the consultation over closing the School?

He is the County Councillor who is the Lead Member for Education, and therefore is the elected official responsible for this.

Is there any value in writing to Councillor Standley before 24 June?

The Board of Governors believe not and that it is better to produce a robust defence of the school than to just delay the consultation.

Are pupil numbers at the school a problem, and if so what are the facts?

There are 71 pupils at the school but an official capacity of 105. This is despite the fact that the school has never had 105 pupils and has often had considerably less than its current number.

Could we create a federation of schools along with Nutley and Danehill?

We are already in partnership with Chailey St Peters and this already delivers most of the financial value of federating.

What can we do to boost pupil numbers?

We’ll be getting out the message that Fletching School is very much still in business, we will be working with the School to offer any assistance possible that boosts pupil numbers – all ideas welcome!

Who drew up the Council’s report?

It’s addressed to the Lead Member for Education from the Director of Children’s Services and was written by council officers

We’ll need a communications plan to defend the school closure. How will that be provided?

We’ll be looking for help from the local and wider community. Anyone with relevant skills or expertise, please get in touch.

We’re shocked that the Diocese of Chichester is supporting this. Why is this, and what can be done to help?

It came as a shock to us too: the Vicar of Fletching had no prior knowledge — particularly as the Diocese signed off the church’s pastoral plan for the next three years, including the appointment of a youth worker. We should express our concerns to the Bishop.

Can we look at all the planning applications using Freedom of Information requests to see what the knock-on effect of housebuilding is likely to be on all the schools in the area?

Yes, we will be trying to gather this information. East Sussex Council’s report says they have accounted for this, but we would like to see more evidence of that.

If Fletching School closes, where would our children go?

The Council have said all children would be offered a place at Chailey St Peter’s. The school currently has a large vacant hut and an ICT suite that would be knocked through to accommodate the children.

Do we need to raise money to set up a fighting fund?

At the moment we need people’s time more than their money. But we’ll let you know if that changes as we may need to fund a legal challenge

One way to challenge this would be to improve our official target Pupil Admission Number. Can we change that?

It is very difficult to change the PAN, although we can look to challenge it. This would however have a knock-on effect to the School’s budget and may make it look less viable financially.

Is it an issue for Fletching that many children leave Fletching School after the first few years in order to go to fee-paying schools?

It’s true that Fletching is in an affluent area, and some parents do move their children to independent schools after beginning here. We’re supportive of parent’s free choice. But we’re also seeing an increasing number of parents moving their children from private schools into Fletching — or opting to stay at Fletching because of the high quality of education we offer

Fletching village is significantly smaller than Danehill or Nutley. Unless the council normalise the data, it’s inaccurate to say we don’t have enough children?

Yes. Any help people can offer in helping us to correct the statistical inaccuracies in the Council’s report will be welcome.

What’s to say the Council haven’t made up their minds already and are planning to close all small schools. Aren’t we just a number to them?

Perhaps. But there are 62 small schools in the area — and if we let Fletching go down, others are sure to follow. It’s vital we fight this threat.

Do we have expertise at a legal level? Is anyone willing to offer it?

Not yet. But we’d love to hear from anyone with experience in this area who can help us defend Fletching School.

Has there been any communication with Broad Oak School? Is the meeting on the 24th about both schools, or just Fletching?

We haven’t spoken to Broad Oak School yet, and their situation is very different to ours. The meeting on the 24th will be about both schools. Our headteacher, Mrs White, is at an event on Fri 21st Jun where she’ll have the chance to speak to all of the other headteachers.

Will we be involving the teaching unions in fighting this battle?

Yes – We have made contact and are waiting for a conversation.

Do we know why Fletching School has been chosen?

No. The report doesn’t give a trail of logic through its argument to show how they took 62 schools and narrowed them down to just two. Some of its data is inaccurate or flawed

Nutley School isn’t full either. So why hasn’t Nutley been chosen?

We don’t know why Fletching School has been unfairly singled out. We’ll be trying to find out more about the data used to reach this recommendation

Is there any point in the report where the Council provide their reasoning for choosing Fletching?

The arguments given in the report are flawed and the logic-flow is incomplete. We’ll be putting in Freedom of Information requests to understand why this recommendation has been made as there must be a paper-trail within the council demonstrating their workings

The current numbers are normal for Fletching – if anything, there are more children at the school now than there were when our children first came here 19 years ago?

Yes, Fletching has always been a small village school. The Council’s argument has no grounding in pupil numbers or educational outcomes. It all boils down to a new formula around national school funding.

Is there a way to reduce our budget deficit?

Our budget is balanced at the moment. But like many other schools under the new funding formula we are facing a deficit by years two and three. We would need to improve numbers by 20-30 pupils in order to allay that under the current funding system.

Is there a media angle to follow up on if we can point out the flaws in the Council’s argument?

Yes. After the 24th we will certainly be exploring all possibilities.

Where did the 105 figure come from? Could the school even accommodate 105 children?

It’s based on our official annual admission number of 15 pupils per year. In theory 105 children could just be squeezed in.

Are small schools being deliberately priced out of existence?

That seems to be how it looks. The Government has said that no new schools with less than two-form entry can now be built

Do we know what the Council were looking at when they considered why people were coming to the school from outside Fletching? They seem to think it’s a bad thing — but isn’t it a sign that people value the school?

You’re right. The report suggests that parents coming to Fletching from outside the immediate area is some sort of negative. But parents tell us they travel here from other nearby places such as Uckfield because they recognise the unique quality and value of an education in a small village school with such a strong sense of community.

Would the Parish Council be able to fund legal support if the campaign to save Fletching School should require it?’

That would be a question for the Clerk of the Parish Council. But the answer would be probably not

Are we arranging lift-shares to Lewes on Monday?

Yes. If you’re able to provide a lift to Lewes on Monday email us at savefletchingschool@gmail.com

You can also keep up-to-date with the campaign through our website which is:

www.savefletchingschool.co.uk

Have we alerted our local MP for Wealden, Nus Ghani?

Yes. We have not yet had a detailed conversation with her though.

Can we reinstate the village pre-school, which worked as a feeder into Fletching village school?

There are many challenges facing a pre-school in the village, not least the opening of a pre-school at the local independent school, Cumnor House. We should work with Cumnor to encourage them to recommend more parents who are going on to state primary schools to apply to come to Fletching

Didn't find the answer?

Here are some of the common questions that we are asked, hopefully they are of some use, but please feel free to contact us if you need any further information.

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Contact

Get in touch – this is a community campaign to protect a fantastic community asset. We’d love to hear from you.

savefletchingschool@gmail.com