A consultation has opened into controversial plans to close up to three small rural schools in West Sussex.

The County Council is considering proposals to close Clapham and Patching C of E Primary School in Worthing, Stedham Primary School in Midhurst and Rumboldswhyke C of E Infant School in Chichester, which all have fewer than 100 pupils.

Angry parents and pupils staged a protest outside County Hall in Chichester last month against the plans.

We're all feeling quite scared. There's a lot uncertainty around the future, not knowing what's going to happen. Before we found this school, my daughter was out of school for eight months. She really struggled to cope in a much bigger school. The classes here are smaller, the groups are smaller and that actually has helped."

Nicola Cumber, Mother

A fourth school - Warninglid - would relocate to a new site two miles away under the plans. It will also forge strong links with another primary school.

This school has been part of this community for 200 years. I have neighbours and friends in the village who went here themselves, their children went here, cousins, aunts, uncles."

Kerry Allen, Mother

To close a small school that provides a very special, specific learning environment is a little bit short-sighted."

Martine Davis, Mother

The council says schools must not only be big enough to be viable for the future but should be able to offer a broad curriculum too, and change is necessary.

But many families say their children benefit from smaller class sizes and a nurturing environment.

Parents will have an opportunity to have their say and we're all in the same way, wanting to get this right for the children both now and also into the future."

PAUL WAGSTAFF, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION & SKILLS, WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL