Parents renew plea for building

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A temporary classroom could let Pagham parents have their children educated at their local school.

County councillor Mike Coleman has asked county education officials to consider if a portable building at Rose Green Infant School would solve their dilemma.

“The building would be sited on the school’s former tennis court. We are looking into the feasibility of doing it.”

One of the campaigning parents, Dawn Salter, said: “This is wonderful news. It would be fantastic if a temporary classroom can be installed there. It would be the answer to our problems but we don’t want to get our hopes up too high until we definitely know it is going to happen.”

As reported, a group of parents in Pagham have been unable to get their children admitted to the infant school this September because its yearly intake of 90 pupils has been reached.

This has left their children with the prospect of being taken past the school to be educated some three miles away at Nyewood C of E Infant School.

Cllr Coleman, who represents the Nyetimber division, told Aldwick parish council’s meeting on April 30: “We do have serious problems at the infant school for this September. It has never really been a problem in the past, though I’ve had to fight to get individual children into the school.

“But it seems this year there are quite possibly up to 15 parents who may have to take their child into Bognor. Many of them currently have siblings in the infant school, which is a very serious situation.

“I find it completely unacceptable that parents with a sibling in the school are expected to take another child into another school in Bognor, no matter how good that is.”

Cllr Coleman said he was unwilling to reveal more about his proposal while it was being considered.

But he stated: “Pagham children should have the chance to go to their local school. There needs to be some long-term planning over the next couple of years. But we need facilities on that site this September.”

All the children who had been accepted for the infant school, in Hawkins Close, lived within the catchment area, he told councillors.

“But we have to ask if it is the right catchment area. I am desperately trying to see if it can be changed but we need to do more than that,” he said.

There could be a case for copying the special circumstances of the catchment area criteria used for a school on the Shoreham Beach estate. Its position in being surrounded by sea was similar to that of the families in Pagham.

The Pagham parents interviewed by the Observer last month have set up a website – www.pagham.org.uk – to explain their position. They have also started an e-petition on the county council’s website, www.westsussex.gov.uk, to gain support for their campaign, and distributed campaign leaflets around shops in the area.