The first headteacher of a struggling school earmarked for closure has backed a campaign to keep it open.

John Werner was in charge of East Brighton College of Media Arts (Comart) from when it opened as Stanley Deason in 1975 until 1994.

He has publicly backed a growing number of parents who are protesting about the school's closure.

He told a meeting of the Local Education Action Group (LEAG), a campaign group set up to fight the closure, that now was the time for every parent to come to the aid of the Wilson Avenue school.

Mr Werner praised the work already done by the group.

He told it: "Parents need to pledge their allegiance to the school by backing this campaign in whatever way they can.

"I will support your work in whatever way I can but we need more parents to come forward to fight alongside us."

Comart is set to close because of falling pupil numbers, poor exam results and high truancy rates.

The school is half empty, with 55 per cent of parents in Whitehawk opting to send their children elsewhere.

Brighton and Hove City Council published notices announcing the start of the closure procedure last week.

A final decision is expected to be made in February.

The expected closure date will be summer 2005.

The LEAG was set up by parents to fight closure and recently published its own report calling for a small school on the site.

Chairman Kevin Dale said: "We are absolutely delighted that John has declared his support for us.

"He brings a wealth of experience to the group, having run Stanley Deason as a highly successful school over a number of years.

"He is completely right that we need more people to join the fight and urged everyone to join us.

"We now have our own web site,, and will be leafleting the entire area with details of joining our campaign.

"If anyone thought we were just going to give up when the councillors voted for closure they, were wrong.

"There is a long way to go before a final decision is made and we are here for the duration."