Skip to content ↓
Chesswood Junior School

Chesswood Junior School

School Amalgamation

Guide for Chesswood community Responses

In line with the Cabinet member for Education and Skills, Nigel Jupp; the Assistant Director, Paul Wagstaff; school governors and school leaders at Chesswood believe the most appropriate school arrangements for this area of Worthing would be:

One primary school on two sites, with one governing body.

The above model provides very significant advantages for stability and therefore effective provision leading to the best school experience and achievement for ALL children. As such, parents and families are advised to support the above model when responding to the consultation. The model proposed significantly reduces duplication across individual schools and therefore ensures finite school funds can be used more effectively, providing greater capacity to provide direct early intervention and support for all. The opportunities, expertise, capacity, support and choices available in this model are significantly greater than the alternative below. Hence, a strong recommendation to support the model above for all parents and families.

A Primary School on Chesswood Site and a separate independent Springfield Infant School

Governors and school leaders believe the model of a primary school on the Chesswood site with Springfield infant school continuing as a separate school with a separate governing body is a significantly less desirable and a less effective model for all families. The West Sussex Education service wrote: "This option is not preferred by the Education Service as it would not benefit from the opportunities to secure consistency across the early years and Key Stage 1 as part of a single school with single governance, overall leadership, and common polices and approaches to supporting teaching, learning and children’s experiences. It also risks fragmentation as all schools move towards the government’s ambition for all schools to be a part of a strong Multi Academy Trust (MAT) partnership by 2030 and risks the potential of the two schools moving into different MATs. " 

The rationale for dissuading parents and families from this model are very clear as it undermines all of the advantages of the one primary two site model.

It is important to be clear at this point that the above is in relation to the potential future models in this consultation and our considered and professional opinion of what is best for all families now and many years into the future. It is independent of our strongly held belief that Chesswood, Lyndhurst and Springfield are highly effective schools with talented and dedicated professionals serving their community diligently. The current circumstances are that we have been asked to provide a view on the models as the context seems clear that the status quo is no longer a viable option, therefore if change is required, our strong preference is to change to a coherent arrangement that will stand the test of time and serve our local community in the best way possible given the options available.

Benefits of proposed Change

All three schools are highly effective and independent but a set of circumstances has arisen that leads to the proposed consultation model being the best option available to sustain effective stability and provision.

The rationale for this is:

  • Reduction of duplicated costs across schools i.e. school leadership posts and external contracts; enabling a greater proportion of finite funding to be placed closer to children.
  • One consistent and sustained curriculum design supporting children’s engagement, achievement and readiness for the next stage of their education at secondary school
  • One set of coherent and consistent policies applied for the benefit of all children ensuring they have a seamless school experience from 4-11 - children knowing and applying expectations and values is a critical part of pastoral development
  • Larger response teams with high levels of expertise bring enormous benefits to different aspects of school life e.g. special educational needs; pastoral support; specialist subject teachers; breadth of extra-curricular activities and experiences; IT infrastructure and management

West Sussex County Council Consultation

Formal Consultation. All members of the school community are encouraged to respond to the formal consultation. 

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to register and respond.

We would also strongly encourage all members of the school community to share their views using the schools own online form (this could be a copy and paste) to ensure school leaders and governors are in the best position to address challenges and realise the opportunities effectively.

School Amalgamation Form

**Please complete this in addition to the West Sussex formal consultation form**

School leaders and governors are seeking to gather the broadest set of thought, questions, queries and concerns. The importance of ensuring highly effective collaboration based on the richest set of views and information cannot be underestimated. It will provide the best possible opportunity to navigate the amalgamation challenges and opportunities reducing the risk of disruption to children's education currently attending Chesswood, Lyndhurst and Springfield and secure provision that is no less than the highly effective offer that is currently available across all three schools.

The form has one question: "Please share your thoughts, questions, queries or concerns"

You will also be asked to provide your name and relationship with the school i.e. parent, employee or governor. If you are a parent, you will be asked to confirm your child's name and your contact details to ensure we are able to contact you to provide a response or guidance as appropriate.

Please complete the form on the page below, use the QR code or follow this LINK.

Press Release 28th November:

Given the current set of circumstances affecting schools in Worthing, school leaders and governors of Chesswood Junior School believe the provision of one highly effective all-through primary school serving our local community across two sites would be our very strong preference.

The option to remain an independent, highly-effective, infant and junior school partnership is not possible if the Lyndhurst Infant School site is closed by West Sussex Council. On that basis, amongst a number of potential models, the opportunity for a single all-through primary school of 840 children ensures children and families benefit from the significant economies of scale. In addition, we can maintain the critical small school ethos and values were individual children and families continue to be put first.

The single primary school model on two sites supports improved use of the financial resources available to school leaders. It will most likely provide increased opportunity for direct support for all children. This will be secured as leadership, policies, systems and processes are not duplicated by individual schools, something that is not possible whilst we are independent. The existence of one flowing school experience for all children presents new and exciting opportunities for school leaders and families locally. The size of the proposed school will ensure significant expertise, specialist roles and teams. They will have greater capacity to intervene early and address a very wide range of need that we support routinely and increasingly since COVID e.g. pastoral and SEN need; curriculum expertise and extra-curricular provision for all.

All families are encouraged to engage and help shape the outcome of the school organisation through the consultation. This will ensure a wide range of perspectives are heard and the model is tested thoroughly, against other options, so the community can be assured it is the best available in the current circumstances and, importantly, for generations to come.

Context for proposed Change

In December 2021 local authority officers and councillors identified a need to reduce pupil spaces at schools across Worthing. For a number of reasons, Worthing schools were maintaining additional spaces and managing cohorts that were substantially less than full. As schools are funded on a per-pupil basis and there are fixed costs per class i.e. a teacher; when class sizes are less than 30 this typically results in notable financial challenges. The impact of which typically reduce expenditure on maintenance or purchase of resources; maintenance or development of the school site; provision for additional need for individual children. This is due to a disproportionate amount of funding expended on broadly fixed costs e.g. staff and contracts including utility bills.

The issue of pupil numbers has been thrown into sharp focus as a result of the planning application for another, 2 form entry 420 child primary school "Bluebell" despite many of the existing schools not being full (http://www.newhorizonsacademytrust.co.uk/197/new-horizons-bluebell-primary). This application appears to have the support of the Department for Education, as it is believed competition between schools will improve provision and the designation of academies outside of local authority control is promoted through government policy. Unfortunately, the risk of competition when there are excess school places presents a notable risk of in provision in some schools regressing due to the financial impact destabilising the system and reducing effective provision for some families. We strongly believe in competition and being the best we can be; however the risks presented by insufficient numbers of pupils in schools are significant and wide-ranging.

The additional capacity places individual school stability and provision at risk. School leaders and governors spend a great deal of time ensure those two aspects, stability and provision, are highly effective; however with so many unfilled spaces across Worthing and the likely additional spaces beyond those currently available there are substantial challenges to overcome.

Head teachers and schools governor must set and maintain balanced school budgets therefore there are a number of aspects to consider:

  • Class sizes of 30 are broadly seen as workable and effective in primary schools
  • A maximum of 30 children are allowed in infant classes, therefore a school admitting 36 children would effectively need two classes of 18 with two class teachers. This i snot sustainable therefore it is likely to result in vertically grouped classes (merging two year groups to secure a financially viable class size).
  • At Chesswood we are now expected to admit upton 165 children in any year group. If full we would have 5 classes of 33 (our maximum class size, with 30 as most desirable). However, if we admit 140 children school leaders and governors must determine whether we can afford 5 classes of 28 or 4 classes of 35. As the pupil admission number is 165; all 140 children MUST be offered a space. In that case we would likely select 5/28 however with @£5k per child pupil funding we would have an opportunity cost of £50K. If other year groups have a similar set pf pupil numbers than the fixed cost become disproportionate.

We can be confident that the West Sussex Local Authority proposal of 4 forms of entry (FE) in East Worthing (120 children per year group) will provide essential stability of pupil numbers locally. This will mean a consistent 30 children in every class, providing the optimum funding level and economies of scale in the proposed 4FE 840 pupil primary school. As such, one all-through primary school, on two sites, is likely to provide the optimal conditions for stability and provision. Therefore, the most effective and efficient arrangements for families i.e. costs of leadership will be minimised i.e. one leadership team rather than two across two schools reducing school expenditure in this area; enabling other areas of school to benefit e.g. pupil support for SEN through teaching assistants ; one set of policies and guidance ensuring childre and families benefit from one coherent experience, optimising outcomes for ALL children.

The journey and the process of moving from the current highly effective arrangements to the model proposed by local authority officers and County Councillors will present both challenges and opportunities. Equally, it will raise thought, questions, queries and concerns for parents, employees and governors. All are encouraged to share these using the online form below to ensure school leaders and governors are in the best position to understands wider perspectives held by different groups associated with the school community.

Guide

Link

Chesswood Amalgamation Covering Letter

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open the document.

Parent Consultation Invite Letter

Letter to parents communicated by Paul Wagstaff, Assistant Director of Education and Skills.

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open

Consultation Briefing paper

This booklet explains the consultation on proposed changes to some of our primary schools in Worthing to address a district wide issue of surplus primary school places.

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open

West Sussex County Council Consultation

Formal Consultation. All members of the school community are encouraged to respond to the formal consultation. 

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to register and respond.

We would also strongly encourage all members of the school community to share their views using the schools own online form (this could be a copy and paste) to ensure school leaders and governors are in the best position to address challenges and realise the opportunities effectively.

Assistant Director report for Cllr N Jupp

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open

 

School Amalgamation Decision Details

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open 

West Sussex School Effectiveness Strategy

The School Effectiveness Strategy 2018-2022 underpins the aims in the West Sussex Plan to ‘give our children and young people the best start in life’ and ‘ensure West Sussex is a prosperous place’.

Click on the image opposite or follow this LINK to open the school effectiveness strategy