|Consultations on proposals to create mainly all-through primary schools (for children aged 4-11) in Crawley begin on Monday, January 14.|
The current pattern of schooling in most of Crawley is in first schools (4-8 years) and middle schools (8-12 years), with the majority of children moving to secondary education at 12 years old. (The exceptions are the three Catholic schools which already have 11 as the age of transfer.)
The change of age of transfer will fit better with Key Stages 2 and 3 of the National Curriculum, and will also bring Crawley into line with the majority of schools in England. Over 75 per cent of those responding to the age of transfer consultation last autumn agreed that the age should change from 12 to 11.
The £60 million plus Private Finance Initiative (PFI), which will provide a new secondary school in Maidenbower, re-build Thomas Bennett Community College and Ifield Community College and re-model Hazelwick School, gives the LEA an opportunity to create the additional 1200 secondary pupil places that changing the age of transfer from 12 to 11 in September 2004 will require.
The proposals going out for consultation involve the amalgamation of some first and middle schools to form all-through schools, some first schools becoming infants schools and some middle schools becoming junior schools. Six schools will have nursery classes, with further pre-school provision planned. Three schools are proposed for closure.
The proposed pattern of education is designed to have schools of the right size in the right places. Some existing schools have falling rolls and spare capacity; in other areas there are insufficient places to meet the needs of growing neighbourhoods. The proposed changes should also help to attract, support and retain high quality teachers, without whom no drive to raise educational standards can succeed.
"This whole programme is about increasing the opportunities for children of all ages in Crawley through additional pre-school provision, improved facilities for primary schools and providing four secondary schools in modern buildings. Changing the age of transfer is just one element in helping children reach their full potential through excellence in education," said Sally Greenwell, Cabinet Member for Education and the Arts. "The recent Ofsted inspection of West Sussex also drew attention to the desirability of changing the age of transfer in Crawley."
Consultation documents will go to parents of all pupils in the Crawley schools affected by these changes. Consultation meetings will be held in the schools, where staff and governors will be able to question and comment on the proposals. There will also be a full range of public consultation meetings for parents and members of the public. The final date for consultation papers and comments to be returned to the Education Department, County Hall, Chichester, is March 22, 2002.
The County Council will publish its final proposals in early summer, taking into account issues raised in the consultations. Final decisions will be made by the independent Schools Organisation Committee or the Independent Adjudicator.
The proposed date for the change is September 2004.
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