Newhaven school plans

Newhaven will have a new primary school from January after plans cleared the final hurdle.

East Sussex County Council wants to create the new all-through primary school (ages 4-11) by bringing together an infant school (4-7) and a junior school (7-11) that have forged an effective partnership and made excellent progress together.

The merger will build on the success of the formal partnership that has linked Grays Infants School and Southdown Junior School since Dec 2010. Since that time the schools have worked together under the executive headship of one headteacher, Christine Terrey.

In May and June this year the council consulted with parents and the local community and 72% of people who responded backed the plans.

In the final stage of the process, in which the council has to publish statutory notices on the proposal, people are given a further opportunity to make comments.

But at a meeting of the council’s Lead Members for Children’s Services, this week Cllr Nick Bennett, the Lead Member for Learning and School Effectiveness was told that no further comments have been received during that final formal stage of the process. And he agreed that the amalgamation of the two schools should go ahead.

Cllr Bennett said: “It’s clear from the previous consultation that a large majority of people support our proposals for these two schools. There’s no doubt that the partnership arrangements of the past couple of years have achieved much. These plans make sense because they will build on the excellent progress that has been made by the headteacher and her team in that time.”

He added that the County Council had a policy of creating all-through primary schools from existing infants and junior schools when an opportunity arose and where it was appropriate.

“Nationally and locally all-through primary schools, in the main, achieve higher standards than separate infant and junior schools. This is because pupils benefit from single leadership and management and better continuity of learning.”

While the pupils at both schools were already benefitting from the close working relationship and the single headship, Cllr Bennett said, the proposal to merge would ensure the benefits continued into the future.

To create the new all-through primary school the council will have to effectively close Southdown Junior School and expand the age range of Grays Infant School from 3-7 to 3-11. The new school will initially operate across both existing school sites but the council aims to bring the school together on the Southdown site as soon as practicably possible.