Now is the time to prepare your response to the Consultation

We want as many responses to the Consultation as possible and we encourage you to put forward your own views and any points that you’d like to make to the council. Personal opinion and stories of how a closure would affect you are important and show the council that this is a subject that will affect many people in many different ways. We have put together a number of points that you might like to use if you feel appropriate, but these are in no way intended to replace anything that you want to include in your response. Please also remember that the responses are made by an individual person, not per family so ANY interested person can make a response.

Whilst it is important that each response to the Council is unique and personal, we’ve put together some ideas that you might like to explore or reference when compiling your response to the Council’s consultation.

Key Information to Support Consultation Responses

This information comes in two sections.  The first is a series of straightforward points that can be used in anyone’s response, either as they are, or with elaboration using personal information.  The second section has more detailed information that can be used again with or without personal elaboration and some areas of interest that those with personal experience or expertise can expand upon.

Section 1

    • Fletching CE Primary School is a Good school according to both OSTED (2017) and ESCC in subsequent inspections as recent as early this year.
    • The consultation document seems to prejudge the outcome both in its tone and in the limited data used to support it.
    • There is currently no room for all the children at Fletching CE Primary School in other nearby schools.
    • Why should my child lose their peer group in July 2020 and have no idea of where he or she will go to school in September 2020 until April 2020 at the earliest? This will have considerable mental impact, especially for the 25% of children at Fletching who are SEND.
    • I don’t see where or how the views of the local community will be taken into account as part of this consultation.
    • Nothing that has been presented by ESCC shows how their proposal will impact on the local community or when this issue will be addressed.
    • Why is another local school (Holy Cross, Uckfield) allowed to continue with a vacancy rate of 60%? In fact Fletching had only joint 7th highest surplus capacity in the East Sussex area. Why has only 1 other of these schools been considered for closure when others show an increasing surplus rate
    • Click the Image below to enlarge the graph
    • DfE guidance on spare capacity is clear that a target of 5-10% is good practice and that 5% is a bare minimum. The North Chailey Area as currently configured has 517 pupils for 560 places giving a vacancy rate for the area of 8%.  Were this proposal be accepted in full then there would be 517 pupils in 525 places giving a vacancy rate of 1.5% which is inadequate.
    • The ESCC Primary Schools Admissions booklet for 2019/20 predicted the roll at Fletching would be 60. In fact the roll at the start of this academic year is 70, an error of 14%.
    • Looking forwards there are two key issues to be satisfied: pupil numbers and the current budget deficit:
      • Pupil Numbers:
        • Three significant local housing developments do not appear to have been allowed for in pupil planning in the area as follows:
          • Scaynes Hill: 55 houses and flats generating 10 pupils (St Augustines is likely to have 2 places available in each of the next 3 years at most)
          • Newick: 69 houses and flats generating 13 pupils (Newick Primary is predicted to be full).
          • Ridgewood: 1000 houses generating 250 pupils. Current Uckfield schools have capacity for 157 pupils mostly at Holy Cross Primary.  This primary school is 7 minutes’ drive from Ridgewood and Fletching is 10 minutes’ drive.
        • In addition the local area has seen a significant number of barn conversions carried out which as they are permitted development have not been taken account of.
      • Budget Deficit
      • The new schools funding formula makes schools with a PAN of 15 and therefore a roll of 105 financially unsustainable as a school is only financially sustainable if it makes optimum use of teachers with close to 30 pupils each. The current deficit caused principally by low pupil numbers will be remedied as follows:
        • 2019/20: A donation in year of £7,500 by the PTA will deliver a balanced budget.
        • 2020/21: The current predicted in year deficit of £56,800 will be addressed through donations currently anticipated to reach £55,000 by the end of the consultation period together with further fund raising throughout the intervening period.
        • 2021/22: The varying deficits predicted by assuming varying pupil numbers depending on the speed with which the houses referred to above are built will be addressed with through further fundraising of amounts varying from £43,000 assuming a cautious pupil number of 75 in October 2020 downwards.

Section 2

    • The consultation document is a poor one in the following respects:
    • It gives no comparative data to support the proposition that Fletching CE Primary School be closed.  It does not therefore comply with the obligation of any consultation to tell the consultees enough to enable them to make an intelligent response.
    • It does not include a candid explanation of the factors or criteria which the consulter considers important to its decision making.
    • Documents providing data concerning statements in the consultation such as identifying 9 schools with 25%+ vacancy rates have not been provided.
    • The consultation is on a single option which is at best poor practice and at worst illegal.
    • The complete absence of comparative data in the consultation document has prevented consultees from taking an informed view of the issues raised and has been grossly exacerbated by the attitude ESCC have taken to answering FoI requests about the consultation.
    • The issue of increasing Chailey St Peters’ PAN by 10 to accommodate Fletching Primary’s pupils in the event of its closure is inextricably linked to this consultation and therefore should have been carried out concurrently with this one. Issues to do with journey creation and parking to access Chailey St Peters are important to the viability of this proposal.
    • A village impact study (also referred to as an equality impact assessment) should have been carried out prior to, or at least concurrently, with this consultation in order to inform the final decision. It is not acceptable to offer this study merely as a mechanism for mitigating the effects of the decision.
    • It is a requirement that closure be in the best interests of educational provision in the area but this has not been substantiated in the consultation document in the following respects:
      • No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate any increase in the quality of provision in the local area.
      • No evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the quality of the educational provision at Chailey St Peters would not be harmed by removal of its capacity to provide a suitable environment for SEND provision if its PAN were to be increased to 30.
    • If the proposal is accepted there will be a considerable impact for those children and their families who will be obliged to use ESCC transport, in particular for those children who are SEND but do not have an EHCP.

The Consultation Period Starts on the 5th July

East Sussex County Council launched their consultation on the potential closure of Fletching School on the 5th July. It will run through to the 11th October 2019. It is vital that we have as many people respond to this consultation exercise as possible. This section of our website details information that may be helpful to you when formulating any information that you want to submit to ESCC.

It is important that each submission is different so we will not be providing template letters for people to send. If you require any help or advice on completing your submission please get in touch with us at savefletchingschool@gmail.com

Some ideas to Consider for Your Response

  • The School is a ``Good`` School according to OFSTED and ESCC

    The School was rated GOOD at its last OFSTED inspection and has retained this rating during each of ESCC’s monitoring visits.

  • Numbers at the School have increased in each of the last 3 years

    We understand that the School has surplus spaces, but word is getting out about the fantastic education and experiences that Fletching School can give children and numbers are increasing.

  • The School is an integral part of the village and parish community

    A village School forms a vital hub to community life. There are strong links to the Church and to other local groups. Without the School the Village and Parish will become less vibrant and will life is being pushed towards larger conurbations.

  • Small Schools are an essential part of Education Provision

    East Sussex is a county with large rural areas. If the Council decide to close small rural schools then there are many other schools that will be at risk of closure. The needs to be variance in Education provision!

  • School Size is key to enabling parental choice

    Parental choice on how to education children is a core right in our country. By removing the ability to chose small village schools, the Council are forcing Parents to select larger schools that are in worse locations for a family.

  • The School maintains the social, ethnic and financial diversity of the community

    Fletching School has a diverse pupil population. It is natural that in an affluent area, some families chose to educate their children privately, but the socio-economic diversity of the school’s pupils ensures that children are interacting with families from all backgrounds.

  • Fletching School is a supportive and nurturing place for SEND pupils

    The School has many success stories of pupils that have struggled in other education establishments that have thrived under the guidance, support and nuture they receive at Fletching School. This is a place where every pupil is understood and has focus.

Resource Sections

The campaign have collected significant information relating to the proposal to close the School, we’ve broken this down into several sections in order to make it easier to review.

Core Information Published by ESCC

East Sussex County Area Review of Rural School Provision

This is the initial report prepared by Officers of the Council for review by Councillor Bob Standley at the meeting on the 24th June. This is presented here in order that you can see the small level of detail that is being used to make such a big decision.

East Sussex County Council Consultation Document

This is the Council’s consultation document, it contains the data which the Council have relied upon to reach this point and contains the Response Form that you can use to provide your feedback to the Council. You can also submit your response online here

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