SENIOR SCHOOLS IN RURAL AREAS [To the Editor of THE
am one of the managers of the Rotherfield group of Council Schools. This group includes the parish of Crow- borough, which was cut out of the old parish .of Rotherfield some thirty years ago, and this group area has now a population of ro,000, or thereabouts, and is in the rural district of Uckfield.
In the county of East Sussex there are over one hundred rural parishes where the one elementary school is an Anglican school, and to which Nonconformist parents are compelled to send their children. What about senior schools ?
I wrote on May rst to the Director of Education, East Sussex County Council, as to the County Education Com- mittee's proposals. for the senior schools, asking him to let me know :
(r) How many rural districts (not urban) there are in which it is proposed to form a central senior school ?
(2) What number it is proposed as necessary to complete your scheme ?
(3) Are there any in which it is proposed to have both a council senior and a church senior school ?
(4) How many areas there are at present in which the character (church or provided council senior school) has not yet been determined and the name of the areas ?
(5) In what parish has a senior provided school been erected or decided upon but not yet erected ?
Here are the Director's answers, dated May roth, 1937: (r) A senior school is likely to be provided in seven or eight rural districts.
(2) The scheme of reorganisation for the county, when complete, will show approximately two senior boys' schools, nineteen senior mixed schools, with four or five senior division schools.
(3) As far as I can tell at the moment there will be no area with both a council and church senior school.
(4) I cannot give a definite answer to this question, as in certain areas responsibility for the provision of senior accom- modation is still under discussion, ahhough the committee under- stand that the church are likely to assume responsibility.
(5) Senior provided schools are in the following parishes: Burgess Hill, East Grinstead, Rye, Hailsham.
As Burgess Hill and East Grinstead are urban areas and Rye is a small corporation, in the whole rural district areas of East Sussex Hailsham ;All be the only one with a council-provided senior school if present expectations are fulfilled.
Eight years ago the managers of the Rotherfield group asked the Education Committee of the county council if it were decided that there should only be one senior school in Crowborough, that that one senior school should be a council-provided school, but when Sir Charles Trevelyan's Education Bill was dropped in Parliament the county council's reorganisation of schools was suspended awaiting developments.
Last week we were informed that the managers of the Anglican Church School (Fermor's Charity) have lodged plans with the County Education Authority and are asking that their school shall be the one senior school in Crowborough. The Fermor Charity school is an older school than the council-provided school, but the latter, opened forty-three years ago, is much larger, having 143 boys and girls of eleven years of age and over, as against sixty in the Fermor School. Without canvassing or agitation of any kind the numbers attending the council-provided school (372) have grown, showing a quiet but true evidence that the parents prefer it to the Fermor school. - The ministers of the Methodist, Baptist, Free Church of England and Congregational Churches have sent a protest to the Minister of Education, Whitehall, and to the county council. It is surprising and inexplicable that the Nonconformist ministers of Crowborough were not approached by the church committee. Nonconformists have memories of the past, and hold deep conscientious convictions. To decapitate the larger and more efficient school in Crowborough, and tO contemplate the appropriation of all the senior schools,. except that of HaiLsham, in the whole of the rural districts of East Sussex, in addition to the rate-aided single church schools in 1°8 parishes, must be regarded as grossly unfair and unjust. In these days we hear much of the reunion of the Christian churches. To treat Nonconformists as outcasts does not even - give the Church committee an uneasy conscience.—Yours truly,
Sweahaws Lodge, Crowboroueh. ARTHUR T. H. SMITH.