Planning ahead for surplus of secondary school places

The council is asking residents what they think the key things to consider are when dealing with the impact of fewer children needing secondary school places in future.

Pupil number projections suggest that in future years there will be more places than there are pupils to fill them. By 2030 it is estimated that nearly 20% of places will not be needed.

This could impact badly on some of our schools as they try to manage budgets and staffing levels. This is because schools funding is mainly based on how many pupils they have.

An online engagement exercise is planned to try and understand your views and opinions on issues such as how much importance residents place on being able to attend a school that’s near to them, and whether the current catchment areas should be adjusted.

The council is running a series of online meetings on Microsoft Teams. The dates are:

Residents will also be able to give their opinions through the council’s website.

Should you be unable to share your views via the council’s website, please contact us on 01273 293653 and leave a message. We will call you back and arrange to take down your response. 

The chair of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, Councillor Hannah Clare, said: “We want to make sure that all our schools are able to remain open through what may well be some difficult years in the medium to long-term future.

“Later this year we intend to run a formal public consultation on managing secondary school places in the city in future. But first we want to get a feel for what the priorities of our residents are. 

“We are also discussing this with our schools, and will be asking them to make parents aware of the online events and how to give us their views.

“At this stage we’re not putting forward any specific proposals as to how admission arrangements could be changed. The feedback we get now will help us work towards a set of proposals we can put forward later in the year.”

In the short term, it is expected that across the city as a whole there will be more than enough places for all pupils needing a secondary school place in September 2022.

However, pupil number forecasts suggest that the Varndean / Dorothy Stringer and Patcham High catchment areas will both be oversubscribed.

The council will be reviewing its advice to parents to try and make it more clear how best to use their three preferences.

Any consideration of admitting extra pupils to these schools could only take place after the council knows how many pupils are expected to go to King’s School and Cardinal Newman, as well as how many families from Brighton and Hove are expected to go to schools in East Sussex and West Sussex. 

The council will not be able to do a full analysis of this data until early 2022.