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  1. ITV Report

Small rural schools earmarked for closure in Sussex and Isle of Wight

East Sussex County Council are looking at whether they need to close down some tiny rural schools.

Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has been looking at what small schools offer, the challenges they face and what some of the solutions may be.

  • Watch Christine Alsford's report below:

Warninglid Primary School in Sussex describes itself as a small school with a big heart. It has plenty of space in the playground to run around. There are great opportunities for outdoor learning, thanks to its idilic setting, and the class sizes are tiny.

  • Marion West, Headteacher:

This is the entire school- only about 30 pupils. In an normal-sized school, there would be this many children in every single class.

This is the school canteen, packed out Credit: ITV Meridian

Education on this scale seems increasingly under threat, as many of our smaller schools become unsustainable, struggling with falling pupil numbers and increasingly tight budgets.

In recent years, Warninglid has tried everything to improve its fortunes and finances, without success.

  • Bob Clark, Chair of Governors:

Warninglid's challenges aren't unique. The number of small schools are in decline.

SCHOOLS WITH FEWER THAN 200 PUPILS

11,500
Small primary schools in the 1980's.
5,500
Small primary schools in 2018.
40%
of schools closed down in last 10 years have been from rural communities
All Saints' in Freshwater is earmarked for closure Credit: ITV Meridian

On the Isle of Wight, the council is looking at the future of five of it's small schools. At the moment, one- All Saints' in Freshwater- is earmarked for closure.

  • Martin Parnell, Chairman- Leadership & Management Committee:

Warninglid's solution is to move. West Sussex County Council hopes to relocate it two miles up the road, where it's pupil numbers will be swelled from families from a new housing estate. It will more that double in size, but it's future should be secure.

  • Fred and Sangeeta speak to Christine in the studio about why this issue is happening now and what are some of the others reasons we might see fewer small schools in the future: