8 September 2017

New proposals for secondary school catchment areas for September 2019

Proposals for making light-touch temporary changes to secondary school catchment areas in Brighton & Hove for the Year 7 starters in September 2019 will be considered by councillors on Monday 18 September.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s children, young people and skills committee is being asked to approve plans to consult on the proposals during the autumn.

The proposals have been recommended by the city’s cross-party working group on school admissions following detailed discussions by all three political parties. They have also been considered by a working party of local headteachers and school governors.

The cross-party group is suggesting a temporary change to the catchment areas because of the decision by the Education and Skills Funding Agency to delay the opening of the new secondary free school.

Cllr Dan Chapman is chair of the children, young people and skills committee and Cllr Vanessa Brown is the lead committee councillor for the opposition. Speaking about the proposals Cllrs Chapman and Brown explained: “We want to be able to offer families greater clarity about which secondary school their child may go to.

“Our catchment area based system has largely served the city well since it was introduced in 2008. However, increases in secondary pupil numbers mean some catchment areas no longer have enough places for each child in their area.

“Until the new school opens we need to make light-touch temporary adjustments to our catchment areas to make things work better.

"Whatever proposals are put forward by the forthcoming committee will be subject to extensive public consultation before a final decision is made in the new year.”

The proposals aim to reduce pressure on school places in the city’s catchment areas. They have been deliberately designed to be as ‘light-touch’ as possible, and to take into account as many factors as possible including accessibility and travel times.

They include three measures aimed at 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.

The city’s two secondary faith schools, Cardinal Newman and King’s, have their own admissions arrangements and are not affected by these proposals.

The University of Brighton Academies Trust is expected to open the new Brighton and Hove Academy at the Brighton General Hospital site in September 2019.

It is anticipated that this school will open without a catchment area in the first instance, using home to school distance instead as a tie-breaker to prioritise applications if they are oversubscribed.

The proposals under discussion would run for two years, starting for Year 7 starting in September 2019.

The council has legal duties to:

  • have enough school places across the city for all pupils in the city who require one
  • have a system for allocating school places that is fair, clear and objective.

It is not possible to guarantee a place at their catchment area school or schools.

However, Government guidelines say parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school will be allocated, which would be achieved by making these temporary light touch changes.

Where possible, the proposals ensure that catchment boundaries follow natural boundaries such as roads, and incorporate complete postcodes.

By law admissions arrangements have to be agreed 18 months in advance. So decisions about school admissions for September 2019 need to be made by early 2018. 

Download the committee papers for Children, Young People and Skills Committee on 18 September (PDF 7.9MB)