Parents and residents in Brighton and Hove can give their views on proposals to reduce future pupil numbers at seven local primary schools during a public consultation running from Monday 15 November 2021 to Sunday 2 January 2022.
The public consultation sessions will look at proposals to reduce the number of reception places - known as the published admission number (PAN) – in a number of schools as follows:
• Bevendean Primary School from 60 to 45 pupils
• Carden Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
• Coldean Primary School from 60 to 45 pupils
• Queens Park Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
• Rudyard Kipling Primary School from 60 to 45 pupils
• Saltdean Primary School from 90 to 60 pupils
• Woodingdean Primary School from 60 to 45 pupils.
Less children for the number of available places
The numbers of pupils entering primary school both locally and nationally has been reducing over the past few years and is set to shrink further in the coming years.
Schools are funded by the government, not the council. The funding is largely done on a per-pupil basis, and nearly all of it covers staffing costs.
Where schools have full classes of 30, this maximises the amount of money available. Not having full classes can put schools in financial difficulties.
Reducing a school’s PAN by less than 30 can lead to schools operating some mixed age classes.
The council’s education team will be holding a number of information events during the consultation. Some are open to everyone, others are specific to the seven schools where a reduction in the PAN has been proposed.
Councillor Sarah Nield, of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said:
“This consultation is a chance for governors, headteachers, families and residents to give their views on our proposals – and to suggest alternative options for addressing the problems in future years caused by the falling birth rate.
“The proposals for the seven schools are in no way a reflection of the quality of education that they provide pupils.
“Locally and nationally we are facing a very serious problem with falling numbers of children set to start school in the next few years.
Planning for the future
Councillor Nield added: “We are committed to keeping all our schools open if we possibly can. But the council has no budget for keeping schools open where pupil number forecasts suggest schools may encounter serious financial difficulties.
“Councils have no control over the birth rate, or which schools parents prefer for their children. This makes planning for future school places a complex task.
“We will continue to work with all our schools to help them address the pressures caused by falling pupil numbers.”
The council has previously sought to reduce the number of places at some of the city’s larger and more oversubscribed schools.
But the national Schools Adjudicator, appointed by the Secretary of State for Education, has decided that schools that have high numbers of parental preferences should be allowed to remain the same size.