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Open letter to Mr Marshall, leader of WSCC

Dear Mr Marshall,

Monday 16th of March was the last day of the “Consultation on Closure” for Rumboldswhyke and for Clapham&Patching schools.

You will have read a significant amount of information and evidence by now, which has hopefully focused your mind on keeping both schools open.

In particular:

Rumboldswhyke

– The discovery that the school’s closure was predetermined last April should in itself have been sufficient for the council to stop the sham “consultation” months ago.

– The West Sussex Governors’ Association have said they “have some very strong views about the way the consultation has been conducted, the information given (and withheld)“. The data provided by the County Council Department of Education reflects either incompetence or manipulation (or a mixture of both). I cannot think of any explanation other than embarrassment why no one within the council is able to stand up and say sorry, we need to put this right immediately.

– The exciting offer from Bishop Luffa to academise Rumboldswhyke is being brushed aside by a simple statement from the Director of Education that “there is surplus at Key Stage 2”. Why is no one in the council challenging this by taking up public comments of “where” and “why”? If parents and other school supporters repeatedly provide you with evidence that the surplus is mainly at Central, and only because parents see Central as a failing school and drive their children outside the city, why is it that you don’t even investigate this evidence and instead unquestioningly accept the account given by the Director of Education? And what have you to say about the fact that there is no surplus at Key Stage 1 in Chichester? There aren’t even enough KS1 places in the city to accommodate all the children currently at Rumboldswhyke, if Rumboldswhyke does close.

Clapham and Patching:

– This school too has an exciting offer to academise. Why aren’t they being supported to do so?

Why isn’t anyone in your council, including yourself, properly and effectively tackling the problem of this flawed process of “consultation”?

By continuing to turn a blind eye to the blatant mishandling of Rumboldswhyke and Clapham and Patching, you continue to allow the problems highlighted in the hugely critical Coughlan report to go unaddressed. Inside the council you lead, you are allowing the Education Department to fail in precisely the way the Children Services Department did. And that fails the communities you are elected to serve, and, in particular, it fails their children.

Before the Coronavirus lock down, we wrote asking you and your colleagues to intervene and keep these much loved and much needed schools open.

Instead, post lock down, you are proposing to have the thing rushed through by just two members of the Scrutiny Committee and two members of the Cabinet. The Cabinet will again be in a position to overturn any rebelliousness on the part of the Scrutiny Committee. So effectively this is a two-person decision. All under the pretence that closing these schools is somehow a pressing matter, despite all other non-emergency business being dropped for the duration.

This is unacceptable when school supporters have managed to clear the rarely achieved hurdle of a 3,000 signature petition to have the decision taken in full council.

Just what is going on in your council? Why? And when are you going to start doing something about it?

Your sincerely,

Parents of Rumboldswhyke and Clapham&Patching schools

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