Nick Herbert visits Midhurst Rother College

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert paid a visit to Midhurst Rother College on Friday afternoon (6 March) where he met the academy’s newly appointed Principal, Dr Joe Vitagliano.

It was the MP's first visit since the school was opened as a new academy in January 2009.

Mr Herbert was given a tour of the ‘Town Site' in Midhurst, including the classrooms, theatre, playing fields and sports centre and was told about plans for a new building on the nearby ‘River Site' which is scheduled to open in September 2012.

Midhurst Rother College is a mixed academy for 1,500 pupils aged between 11 and 18, created by bringing together Midhurst Grammar School, Midhurst Intermediate School and Herbert Shiner School in Petworth.

The academy is currently operating across two sites, with Years 6-8 on the Easebourne site (the former Midhurst Intermediate School) and Years 9-11 and the Sixth Form on the Midhurst site (the former Midhurst Grammar School).

The academy will be run in partnership with the University of Chichester and Winchester College and is sponsored by the United Learning Trust, which is the largest single sponsor in the Government's academies programme, and is a subsidiary of the United Church Schools Trust.

Nick Herbert commented: "I am very grateful to Dr Vitagliano for showing me around the academy, which takes students from some of the villages in my constituency, including Bury and Coldwaltham.  Midhurst Rother College is one of the first rural academies in the country and it was very interesting to hear about their plans for the future and for a new building."

Mr Herbert added: "I'm a strong supporter of the academy programme and would like to see it extended.  If we're going to raise the quality of education for our children, I believe that we need to focus on standards and give schools the freedom to innovate.  I think the academy programme is an important tool for achieving that and I wish Dr Vitagliano and his team every success."



Notes for Editors

1. For the website of Midhurst Rother College (MRC), visit

2. The Foundation Day for staff and students was held on Wednesday 28 January 2009. It was hosted by Dame Angela Rumbold, Chairman of the United Learning Trust (

3. The academy will specialise in science and mathematics, with the major themes of business and enterprise and ICT running throughout the curriculum.

4. The opening of MRC coincided with the introduction of a two-tier system for schools in the Rother Valley. Under this new system, children will go from primary to secondary school at age 11.

5. MRC is one of four academies that will serve communities in West Sussex. The other three, which are scheduled to open in September 2009, will be at Littlehampton Community School, Boundstone Community College in Lancing and King's Manor Community College in Shoreham.

6. In the photograph Nick Herbert (right) is shown during a tour with Dr Joe Vitagliano.

Christopher N Howarth