Children in tears as fight to save school continues

Mountfield and Whatlington School'28/06/12
Mountfield and Whatlington School'28/06/12

FURIOUS parents have accused East Sussex County Council of putting cash before the welfare of children in its bid to close Mountfield and Whatlington Primary School.

One mum, who spoke to the Observer this week, said: “Kids have been crying. They are worried about their future and the future of teachers at the school. It is unsettling and horrible.

“My daughter loves going to that school.”

There were incredible scenes at the school on Thursday when members of the local church, including vicar Kevin Mepham, were told to leave the meeting.

They included church warden and retired primary school teacher Jackie Spriggs who attended the school as a child, as did her son, father and grandfather.

She said: “I was approached at the meeting by Fiona Wright, from the county council, who pointedly asked me what class my child was in - it was very sarcastic and I could have slapped her. She was officious and brusque.”

Valerie Bennett, a former governor at the school, who regularly goes in to read to children, was also asked to leave.

She said: “We were told it was for parents only but I had gone along on behalf of parents who were unable to attend to report back. They could have allowed us to stay and listen.”

“A mum who did stay commented: “I was disgusted by the way we were dealt with - it was all about money.

“We asked if it was worth fighting for the school and they more or less shrugged.

“At first they said the closure was about falling standards, but now Ofsted say the school is improving and has turned the corner, they are saying it is about finances.

“It is a fantastic little school and my daughter has really picked up recently.

“We as parents want to keep fighting to keep this school open. There is no proper head or parent governor, it is just down the parents to fight on.

“County say numbers are falling at the school, yet they are discouraging potential new parents from sending their kids there - it is a vicious circle.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “Last week’s meeting was intended specifically for parents of children at the school, to discuss with them the implications of the potential closure.

“We will be carrying out a full consultation beginning in September, including a public meeting, which means everyone will get the chance to have their say in due course.

“The whole purpose of a consultation is that views from all interested parties are sought and all issues raised will be thoroughly investigated before any decision is made.”

The County Council says only five children have been allocated a place at the school in reception year for September 2013, none of whom live in the Mountfield and Whatlington community area.