Councillors in Brighton & Hove are to consider consulting on a plan to reduce the total number of school places across the city for the academic year starting in September 2022.
The government advises councils to have between 5-10% surplus places in total to allow it to take account of parental preference and fluctuations in pupil numbers.
But for September 2022 the current predictions are for around 19% surplus places city-wide. The figures for September 2023 are even higher.
There are concerns that a potentially large surplus in school places in years to come could lead to some schools facing financial problems.
The proposals, which have been developed through a cross-party working group, aim to reduce the total number of school places in the city by 360 in order to help manage this.
The Children, Young People and Skills committee on Monday 14 September is being asked to agree to a public consultation on proposals to reduce the Published Admission Numbers (PAN) of nine schools in the city. They are:
- Balfour Primary School from 120 to 90 pupils
- Benfield Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
- Brunswick Primary School from 120 to 90 pupils
- Downs Infant School from 120 to 90 pupils
- Goldstone Primary School from 90 to 60 pupils
- Moulsecoomb Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
- Stanford Infant School from 90 to 60 pupils
- West Blatchington Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
- Hove Park School and Sixth Form from 300 to 180 pupils.
Committee chair Councillor Hannah Clare said: “Our priority is to ensure that families have a wide choice of schools – and ensuring that through managing the large number of spare places we have, we keep all schools in the city open.
“We want to be able to offer families school places within a reasonable distance of their home.
“Sadly, having too many school places puts our schools at financial risk. This is because they may end up supporting multiple classes that aren’t full – without the funding to provide enough support to those pupils.
“This means we will need to make some difficult decisions.
“This consultation would be an important chance for our residents to give their views on how we achieve these aims, along with providing detail around routes to school and any other issues they may wish to raise.
“But given the government rules that determine school funding I think most people would agree that doing nothing is simply not an option.”
Decisions about school numbers for September 2022 need to be agreed by the end of February 2021.
If agreed by the committee, consultation on the proposals would run from 5 October to 27 November. The committee would then consider the results of the consultation and make decisions early in the new year.