West Sussex County Council has confirmed an investment package of £30m for schools in the Worthing area, which could see a change in the age children transfer to secondary schools.
The county has already secured a £20m Government grant to cope with increasing pupil numbers in the Worthing area. Around £13m of this will be used to build a new 900-pupil secondary school following a large influx of children in the Worthing area. The school will be built on surplus land currently owned by Northbrook College in Broadwater.
In addition to this the County Council has now said it is prepared to invest £10m of its own resources in the town’s schools and is to consult on the planned improvements. One of the main proposed changes will be that children should start secondary school at the age of 11 instead of 12. This proposed ‘Age of Transfer’ change would bring Worthing in line with most other schools in the country. All parents will be consulted for their views on the best way to make the changes.
“Funding the Age of Transfer scheme has become a priority for the County Council,” explained Peter Evans, Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life.
“That is why we have been able to find this significant amount of money for these improvements. Although the council is facing huge financial pressures across all of its services, we see this as a golden opportunity for the children of Worthing. We have a site for the new school, and we now have the funds available.
“We are not intending to close or merge any schools so these changes will build on the strengths of the current schools and their teachers. We have worked closely with schools to bring forward these proposals and will continue to do so.”
Michael Cloake, a County Councillor for Worthing, said “this is great news for our children. Completing the Age of Transfer will bring Worthing into line with the rest of the country and should bring a marked positive impact to children’s educational prospects in the local area”.
The consultation document, which is due to be published in November, will contain details of proposals for each school in the Worthing area, including proposals for additional places at other secondary schools.
Public meetings will be held for schools where changes are proposed.
If the proposals are approved it is expected they would be in place by September 2015.