Students on a pottery course in Burgess Hill have been left shocked and upset after the course was suddenly axed amid ‘health and safety’ fears.
The pottery classes were run by the adult education organisation Aspire Sussex at Park Centre, Burgess Hill, but were cancelled last week ‘with immediate effect.’
One student - Andrea Arogyaswamy - who has been attending classes at the centre for the past 13 years said: “We were all fairly stunned.”
She said many had been left in the lurch with half-finished pieces of pottery work.
In a protest letter to Aspire chief executive Robyn Kohler, Andrea said: “It seems to be a completely irrational and illogical decision.”
Fellow student Christine Cherry said she was ‘dismayed’ by the course’s closure and to be given no notice was ‘shameful.’
“I am totally bewildered and perplexed as to how this situation could have occurred mid course,” she said.
But Aspire chief executive Robyn Kohler said that Park Centre, where the course was run, was owned by West Sussex County Council and had undergone an Ofsted inspection which required the council to review its venues to ensure they were ‘suitable and safe for learners.’
She said accessability problems were highlighted in the building with students having to walk along a long dark corridor to access a kiln. “We have asked the council for an alternative venue, but they haven’t yet been able to find anything.”
A further Ofsted inspection had since been made and “we decided it was better not to run the course there,” said Ms Kohler.
She said they were still actively looking for alternative facilities.
Meanwhile, she said, students had been contacted and told that arrangements were being made to ‘fire’ pottery works to enable them to be finished, and that fees were being refunded.
“We are trying to make amends as best we can,” she said.
“We understand that some learners are upset. We’re disappointed too.
“We want students to enjoy the course in a safe environment and to relish all the things that adult education provides for people.”