Consultation on School Admission Arrangements 2019-20

Admission arrangements for Brighton & Hove schools 2019/20

The consultation on the council's admission arrangements closed on 19th November.

What was the consultation about?

We are looking to make some light touch changes to secondary school catchment areas for a two year period because rising pupils numbers are causing pressure on secondary school places in some catchment areas.

We are also looking to make a change to the number of children that will be offered places in five primary schools because there are more places than are currently needed.

Both of these changes are due to take effect from September 2019.

What was covered by the proposals?

The proposals include three changes to the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean catchment area:

  • An area north and east of Elm Grove would be incorporated into the Longhill High School catchment
  • An area at the northern end of the catchment area would be incorporated into the Patcham High School catchment area
  • Two areas to the west of the catchment area would be incorporated into the Blatchington Mill / Hove Park catchment area.

With regards to the Blatchington Mill/Hove Park catchment area:

  • A section to the west of the catchment area would be incorporated into the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy catchment area.

Details of the maps can be found at the bottom of this page.

The five primary schools that are proposed to have a reduction in their Published Admission Number are:

West Hove Infant School (Connaught Road site)
Moulsecoomb Primary School
Coombe Road Primary School
Benfield Primary School
Hertford Infant School

What did we want to know?

We wanted to know if you agree to the changes to the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean and Blatchington Mill/Hove Park catchment areas and you can also explain why you either support or disagree with the proposals.

We also wanted to know if you agree to each of the five primary schools having a reduction to their Published Admission Number and you can explain why you either support or disagree with each proposal.

What will happen next?

After the consultation closes on 19 November the responses we have received will be read and considered.

In January 2018 recommendations will be made to the children, young people & skills committee about how to proceed and full council will make a final decision on 1 February 2018.

When will the agreed changes come into effect?

The agreed changes will come into effect from September 2019.

Where can I find out more information?

The committee report relating to these proposals can be found on pages 37-80.

A series of public meetings have been held, further information about this is available.

Response to the request for further information regarding the proposed changes to secondary school catchment areas

At the public consultation meeting regarding the proposal for school admissions in September 2019 held at Elm Grove Primary School on Thursday 9 November 2017 there was a request for additional information on a number of matters: the numbers of pupils in both the East Brighton area that was originally proposed and the Elm Grove area currently included; the offer made by Dorothy Stringer and Varndean Schools to admit 30 additional pupils each for 2019 and 2020 academic years; comparisons of the travel between both areas to Longhill School; and the implications for pupils eligible for free school meals.

Without making any changes to the catchment areas we forecast that for 2019 and 2020 the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area would have 696 and 736 pupils respectively for 600 school places in each year.

Under the initially proposed model that included an area of East Brighton being incorporated in the catchment area for Longhill school we forecast that the number of pupils within the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area would have been reduced to 584 pupils in 2019 and 625 pupils in 2020, if the change was implemented.  This meant that the total reduction in the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area for 2019  and 2020 was 112 and 111 respectively.

These figures do not include an adjustment for the number of places that would be taken by pupils making use of the sibling link priority.   By looking back at recent years we know that there is an average of 161 siblings each year in the whole Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area.

With such a high number of sibling links it was felt that the total number of pupils within the catchment area needed to be reduced even further than was achieved by incorporating the pupils from East Brighton.  The second model included moving an area north of Elm Grove in to the Longhill catchment area.  This proposal reduced the forecast number of pupils within the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean Catchment area for 2019 and 2020 to 567 and 606 respectively.  Again these numbers do not include any pupils that could make use of the sibling link priority.  This means that the total reduction in the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area for 2019  and 2020 would be 129 and 130 respectively from the existing catchment areas and decrease over the previous proposed model of 17  and 19 pupils respectively.

Having arrived at a  solution that reduced the number of pupils in the catchment area to acceptable levels we then considered the possible impact of the sibling link on the number of pupils looking for a Year 7 place in 2019 and 2020.  Using the average of 161 pupils across the whole Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area and data available to the Local Authority regarding actual sibling links in 2017 and 2018 we determined that the number of pupils looking for a school place would increase to 598 in 2019 and 637 in 2020.  While this does not completely solve the problem it was considered that this was a more manageable amount of pupils in the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area than the original total.

The forecast pupil numbers for 2019 and 2020 for the existing Longhill catchment area is 232 and 250 pupils respectively.  The initially proposed model incorporating an area of East Brighton resulted  in this increasing to 255 and 275 respectively and the model including the area north of Elm Grove increased this further to 277 and 299 respectively.  Longhill School has greater capacity to admit additional pupils in its existing accommodation than either Dorothy Stringer  or Varndean schools owing to the school having taken lower numbers over recent years.  This means that in the event of the council’s modelling not being as accurate as expected there would be greater flexibility for Longhill to admit over numbers.

It is recognised that Longhill is a school with a current Requires Improvement Ofsted judgment which contains some of the most deprived areas of the city.  The percentage of children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) in the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area at the present time is approximately 14%.  The initial proposal to include East Brighton in the Longhill catchment area results in the Dorothy Stringer / Varndean catchment area having 14% of their intake eligible for Free School Meal while the proposal that includes the areas north of Elm Grove increases that proportion to 15%. This reflects an average free school meal figure which ensures compatibility with the recommendation of the Children, Young people & Skills Committee in September 2016 to plan to consult on introducing a priority for pupils in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) to seek to ensure pupils from more deprived circumstances have the opportunity to attend popular schools. The proportion of pupils at Longhill School in receipt of free school meals was not negatively affected by the change in catchment area model and it was noted that additional pupil numbers would also offer the school the opportunity to secure levels of funding to maintain the efficient delivery of education as part of its medium term planning.

The travel distance to / from Longhill from both east Brighton and the area north of Elm Grove has been questioned.  It has been reported that the journey from East Brighton is likely to be quicker and easier that the journey from the area north of Elm Grove.  Investigation of the bus routes from both these areas suggest that there is little difference between the two areas in respect of travel.  Pupils in the area north of Elm Grove will be able to catch the No.72a bus from any of the 5 stops in Elm Grove and travel directly to Longhill School.  The longest walking distance to a bus stop is approximately 1Km.  Pupils in the additional area of east Brighton would be able to catch a No. 2 bus directly to the school but the longest walking distance to a bus stop would be approximately 1.4Km.  They would also have the opportunity of catching a bus to Rottingdean and changing bus to go up to the school but this is likely to take longer than either of the two direct routes.

As has been noted, at this time both Dorothy Stringer and Varndean schools have recently stated that they would be willing to have a dialogue with the council about how additional places could be offered at each school.  This has come about as a result of the current consultation and will be considered along with all the consultation responses once the consultation period has ended.  The offer does expect the council to provide additional accommodation at both schools.  At the present time it is not known exactly what the schools would require but dialogue with the schools regarding this will be undertaken and the outcome reported to the committee in January as part of the overall report. It is worth noting that even if an additional 60 places were to be offered at the schools, with no change to the catchment area there are projected to be 36 pupils in 2019 and 76 pupils in 2020 living in the Dorothy Stringer and Varndean schools catchment area who would not get a place and so the random allocation tiebreaker would mean that pupils throughout the current catchment area would have no certainty of a place.

Voluntary Aided Schools, Free Schools and Academies

Voluntary aided schools, free schools and academies are responsible for their own admission arrangements.

The consultation documents for any own admission authority schools which are proposing changes to their admission arrangements or supplementary information forms (SIF) will be listed below.