Friday, 7 March 2008

Rogate: Save our School!

Congratulations to the Rogate Save our School Campaign for an excellent public meeting last night (March 6th). Many righteously angry parents and members of the community expressed their outrage at the proposed closure of this small rural school which plays a vital part in the coherence of the village. This closure is proposed in the context of:

a) explicit guidance from the Schools Minister Jim Knight, issued on January 31st 2008, which restates a legal presumption against closure in the case of designated schools. Rogate's school is so designated. Colin James for WSCC signally failed to demonstrate the legal justification for exceptional closure on the grounds that, for instance, "all parties agree", or that an alternative nearby school could provide substantially better services.
b) West Sussex's relatively low overall average surplus places. Surplus places equate to empty desks – the number of ‘vacancies’ in a local authority’s schools. Surplus places play an important part in West Sussex County Council’s justification for primary school closures in the Rother Valley and the opening of an academy to entice upwardly mobile middle-class parents back into the sytate system. Whilst it is true that the Rother Valley’s population is aging, and that primary school rolls are currently falling - largely as a result of inflated house prices - latest available figures from the National Audit Office show that West Sussex’s surplus places, as a percentage of total places barely exceed the national average. WSCC have 7.9% surplus capacity against the national average of 7%. By way of comparison, Portsmouth has a 10.1% surplus capacity, whilst Southampton has 16.9% . Although surplus places are much higher in the Rother Valley, these figuresshow that it is well within WSCC's capacity to cross-subsidise essential rural services in the interests of communities, whilst maintaining basic principles of equity (other services available to residents of Crawley, for instance, do not exist in Rogate), rather than close them down, or sell them off to unaccountable charities, as in the case of the Academy.

Colin James' derisory responses to comments were, quite correctly, rejected by Rogate residents. Just like the Academy proposal, the Rogate school closure is an ill conceived and penny-pinching plan which has little regard for the democratic will of the local population or its long term interests. NAME offers its full support to the Save our School campaign. We share common concerns and the common interests of our community. Like SoS, NAME represents the voices which are unheard in the take-it-or-leave-it 'consultation' currently underway.

Victory to people of Rogate! Save our School!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to say that these proposal were ill thought through, but when it came down to it at the meeting last night, I can honestly say that there has been no thought involved what so ever.

Paul said...

Hi All,

Thanks for your support.

The official campaign Website for Rogate School is www.saverogateschool.com. Please point everyone in our direction we need a lot of support!

Paul Hardwick
Chair of Governors