The Windmills Junior School..
PARENTS have expressed their anger after a headteacher announced plans to demand rent from
The move by The Windmills Junior School in Hassocks means uncertainty for children who take part in chess club and music lessons as the volunteers and music tutors who run them threaten to leave over the new charges.
The cash-strapped school is considering charging external clubs rent in a bid to raise money.
In a letter to parents, the volunteer behind the school’s lunch-time chess club called the demand “unacceptable” and said he would no longer run the club there.
Sussex Junior Chess Academy director Brian Stockham said: “I am sad to advise that next term we will not be resuming the Tuesday lunch-time chess sessions.
“In the last week before the end of term I was advised by the school of a new lettings policy for after-school clubs designed to raise funds for the school, despite the fact I am usefully entertaining the children during a lunchtime as well as easing the burden on other staff.
“The policy was to be applied to me whereby I am charged for the few square feet I occupy in the session.
“I found that unacceptable and appealed as your headteacher has the discretion not to apply the charge if there is ‘direct benefit to Windmills pupils’. This was rejected, which has disappointed me even more as I thought there was greater appreciation from staff of the benefits children gain from this game.”
He said no other school in the area applied the charge and the expense would make it difficult to maintain the equipment.
Children in the drumming club have also been told lessons may be cancelled if the charge goes ahead.
One parent speaking to The Argus said: “I think it’s very short sighted and narrow minded to price the kids clubs out of the school. Chess is at lunchtime and I don’t see where there is anything extra the school are providing which they can justify charging for.
“The lights and heating would be on anyway and chess has to be a benefit for any pupil. If there are other clubs waiting to come in and take up the time, all it’s going to mean is more cost for parents.”
Windmills pupils from the chess club recently entered the Sussex Schools Championship in November and had been described as making good progress.
Headteacher Leila Murray said: “The charge has not been set in stone. It was a proposal we put forward because of concerns raised by the chess volunteer and parents. We will now go back and talk to governors about steps forward.
“I think chess is brilliant and he has done an amazing job. It is just about the big picture and looking at it from all angles.”
The governors will decide whether to go ahead with the proposal later this month.
Source: The Argus