Parents of pupils at a school for autistic children are furious after being told the centre will close next month.

An email sent on June 6 announced that St John’s School, in Firle Road, Seaford, will shut on July 21 with declining pupil numbers and a “challenging external environment” given as reasons.

It means parents have fewer than seven weeks to find a new school for their children – many of whom have complex special educational needs.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Argus that St John’s was already a “last resort” for attendees after mainstream schools in the area said they were not able to provide the high levels of support the children required.

“If not St John’s, then where? There are no schools for our children,” they said.

“I was flabbergasted when I read the email about the closure. I read it with horror and disbelief."

There are currently 32 of a possible 42 pupils on the books at the school, which serves people aged between seven and 19.

Responding to concerns that their children may be without a school place for the next academic year, St John’s chief executive Simon Charleton told parents a special team has been created to help with the transition.

The Argus: The CEO of St John's announced the school's closure in an emailThe CEO of St John's announced the school's closure in an email (Image: Google Maps)

“We recognise this difficult decision will have a negative impact on you and your family,” he said.

“The key priority of the school team will be supporting pupils to transition to appropriate onward destinations.”

Mr Charleton said the “Transitions Team” will remain in place for as long as is necessary.

The future of St John’s School had been uncertain for many months, parents said.

On March 13, then headteacher Anthony Carlo implemented a “rota” for pupils due to high staff absences.

Each class was assigned one day each week where pupils may have to stay at home if too many members of staff called in sick that morning.

Parents were told via an email sent out by 8am on their assigned day if their child could go to school that morning.

Signs of improvement began to show when on April 19 the school revealed it had merged with a London-based autism charity.

A letter from Mr Charleton said: “The board of trustees of Ambitious about Autism and St John’s School and College have approved the merger of the two charities, taking effect on Friday, September 1, 2023.

READ MORE: Social care at St John's school in Seaford 'inadequate'

“The board of both charities are absolutely sure that this decision will allow St John’s to create even better opportunities and life outcomes for our autistic children and young people.”

But on Tuesday, May 30, it was announced that Mr Carlo had stepped down as headteacher the previous Friday to “pursue other interests”.

Angela Tempany, interim executive headteacher for the school and college, took on the role as headteacher at the school from June 5.

The following day, the closure was announced.