Welcome | News Releases | Audio Releases | Connections

News Room

Press Releases


  Press Release Number 024 15 January 2003
The age of transfer in the Storrington, Midhurst and Petworth areas will not be changed and the three-tier education system in the areas will be retained.

This decision has been made by the Cabinet Member for Education and the Arts, Sally Greenwell, after a recommendation from the Task Force set up to examine the issue.

The 2001 OfSTED report on the West Sussex Local Education Authority drew attention to the different ages of transfer across the county and recommended review "in order to ensure the organisation of schooling supports schools efforts to raise standards" and make plans in the long-term to develop a consistent system.

A wide-ranging consultation on possible changes to the age of transfer was carried out between July and September 2002. In the Storrington area substantial opposition to any change was expressed. The pattern in the Midhurst and Petworth areas was more mixed. These results were considered by the Task Force.

Also taken into consideration were:

Demographics – It is likely that pupil numbers will fall particularly in the Midhurst and Petworth areas and therefore consideration should be given to the development of schools in order to take account of the likelihood of fewer pupils
Standards – there was no conclusive evidence that the system was disadvantaging pupils
Rural communities, transport and travel – where possible children should be educated in their local community. A change to the age of transfer could result in further travel for some pupils
Funding – Schools in the area are funded at per pupil higher than the West Sussex average, but the cost of provision in rural areas is inevitably higher than more densely populated areas
Development of Post 16 Education – the educational opportunities offered in the area at Post 16 were accepted as relatively narrow. The Learning and Skills Council and the County Council are proposing to develop greater diversity and choice
Parental preference – Some schools near the Hampshire or Surrey border suffer turbulence in pupil numbers. A change of age of transfer may have greater stability for these schools, but for other schools such a change may have made little difference.

Commenting on her decision, Sally Greenwell, said: "I am grateful to the Task Force for examining the issues involved so thoroughly. There was no hidden agenda; we started this process with an open mind. Having examined the conclusions of the task force I can see no overriding reason for change.

"However, we will be looking at the issue of falling pupil numbers and identifying ways in which the County Council can support the development of educational provision. Likewise, we will be exploring the potential for Adult and Community Learning developments in the areas."