Councillors will next week be asked to consider the future of some of our schools due to a huge fall in pupil numbers in the city.
A report to the Children, Families and Schools committee (Monday 6 November) will recommend launching consultations on whether the number of pupils joining certain schools in reception each year, called PANs (Published Admission Numbers), should be reduced from September 2025.
It will also be recommended that consultations start on the future of two primary schools that have some of the lowest number of pupils in the city and are facing financial difficulties.
The committee report highlights how falling pupil numbers are having a devastating impact on our schools, and how we must take action to secure the future of all our schools.
'No easy solution, but we must act now'
Councillor Jacob Taylor, co-chair of the council’s Children, Families and School’s committee and also finance lead, said: “There’s no easy solution to falling pupil numbers, and no one wants to talk about school closures.
“But having very high numbers of unfilled school places isn’t something we can allow to continue and as a responsible council, we must take decisive action.
“The issue has been kicked down the road for too long and we must act in the interests of children who will be denied support if the problem isn’t addressed.
"More than every one in five school places is now empty.
"The 2021 census showed there’s been a 22% drop in children aged 0-4 in the city compared to the 2011 census and this is already having a huge effect on some of our schools.
"Each year there are 2,610 primary school places in reception, but we forecast there may only be 1,959 children requiring a school place in 2025 and 1,948 in 2026.
"If we don’t make changes, that will leave 651 empty places in 2025 and 662 the year after.
"With inflation still rising and government cuts to our budget in real terms, plus an estimated overspend of £9 million for this financial year, we’re being forced to look at ways of reducing the number of unfilled places."
We'll consult before taking decisions
No decisions have been taken yet - and won’t be until after consultations with schools and residents has taken place. But it could mean closing two primary schools and reducing the PANs in another nine.
Full details of the consultation processes will be on the council website after the committee has met.
The proposed PAN reduction from September 2025 are:
- Brunswick Primary School (reduced by 30 places)
- Goldstone Primary School (30 places)
- Patcham Infant School (30 places)
- Rudyard Kipling Primary School (15 places)
- Queen’s Park Primary School (30 places)
- Saltdean Primary School (30 places)
- Stanford Infant School (30 places)
- St Luke’s Primary School (30 places)
- Woodingdean Primary School (15 places).
As part of these proposals, we are unfortunately also consulting on proposals to close two of our city's primary schools - St Bartholomew’s C of E Primary School and St Peter’s Community Primary School.
Councillor Taylor added: "We understand how upsetting this will be for all those involved with the schools.
"We want to assure everyone that if the closures go ahead this will be very carefully managed to minimise the impact on children, their families and all the staff.
We must secure long-term future of our schools
“If we want to secure the long-term future of our schools we must act now and take these extremely tough decisions. Doing nothing and hoping the situation improves or goes away is not an option.
“I fully recognise and understand the huge pressures headteachers face every day in running their schools, and as a council we want to support them as much as possible.
“We will be talking very closely with school heads and governing boards, and I hope they are prepared to work with us and make decisions that support primary and secondary education throughout the city.”