An infant school in Horsham could close if a £2million merger gets the go-ahead.

Planners are looking at the possibility of combining St Leonard's Community Infant School and Chesworth Junior School.

The amalgamation would create a primary school, catering for four to 11-year-olds and see almost £1.8million spent on new buildings.

St Leonard's, in Oxford Road, has 160 pupils. Chesworth, in Kingslea, has 225.

West Sussex County Council claims the merger would have significant benefits, including more funding and better learning opportunities for pupils.

The new school would have increased capacity to ensure there were sufficient places for all children in the St. Leonard's catchment area.

A separate proposal involves the relocation of Horsham Nursery School to the Chesworth site. This would create an 'early excellence centre' in purpose built accommodation serving children and families across Horsham.

Sally Greenwell, West Sussex Cabinet member for education and the arts, said: "I can assure parents that there will be a full and thorough consultation if we decide to go ahead with the proposal.

"St Leonard's Infant and Chesworth Junior are both considered to be effective schools which are well led and managed.

"All-through primary schools have distinct advantages and there is evidence at both national and local level that children's rate of progress can be adversely affected by changes of school part way through the primary phase."

Helen Waight, headteacher of St Leonard's, said parents had been informed about the proposals by letter last Friday.

She added: "As these are just proposals at the moment we have no comment at this stage."

The earliest that any changes will take place would be September 2005.

Tuesday September 23, 2003