Agenda item - Public Involvement
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To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:
(a) Petitions: to receive any petitions presented to the full council or at the meeting itself;
(b) Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 13 July 2015;
(c) Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 13 July 2015.
17.1 There were none.
17b Written Questions
17.2 A written question was submitted by Mr H Lambert, and presented by Mr J Stanley.
The question was:
September, Portslade schools such as Brackenbury are again shouldering the fixed costs
of providing places for sixty children, whilst only having a school
roll of thirty four. Meanwhile the Council has continued to
over expand primary schools in central Hove resulting in inadequate
provision of outdoor space for the children attending them.
With 76 spare reception spaces in Portslade schools this September, is this new Council prepared to face up to the mistakes of the previous administration, reverse the over expansion of schools in Central Hove and provide badly needed support to schools in Portslade and other outlying areas?
The Chair and Head of Education Planning and Contracts gave the following response:
Schools in South Central Hove have not been over expanded. This is a part of the city where there have been significant increases in the number of children over the last twelve years and additional places have been provided so that these children can attend a local school.
It is not feasible, and nor would it be right, to reverse the provision of local places in South Central Hove schools which are popular with local people and to require children in future year groups to attend schools which are some distance away. The need for these places is demonstrated by the fact that the schools in this part of Hove are full or almost full in all year groups, reflecting local preference for a local school.
Since 2008 the council has provided five new permanent forms of entry in the infant and primary schools in South Central Hove, including the additional form of entry at St Andrew’s CE Primary School commencing in September this year. We have also during this time provided five temporary bulge classes in the schools in this area so that children did not have to travel long distances to alternative schools.
Even with these additional places in central Hove there is still a shortfall in local primary school places with the result that we have to allocate places outside this area to some children each year.
We are very aware that schools with spare places face challenges in organising their classes and managing their budgets. These challenges will not however be resolved by removing places in areas where there are more children and directing children to fill these spare places.
At 10 July there were 60 unallocated places in the Portslade primary schools, almost all of them in three of the seven schools. One of these schools, Mile Oak Primary School, is in the north of Portslade, and Hove children would have to travel more than two miles and in some cases over three miles if they were allocated a place at this school.
A variety of factors, and not just pupil numbers, may contribute to schools finding it difficult to set a balanced budget. Officers work closely with schools which have budget difficulties and where appropriate allocations are made from contingency where these budget difficulties arise at least in part from exceptional circumstances.
The Chair asked Mr Stanley if he had a supplementary question, and he asked the following:
Benfield was in Special Measures in 2013; what is the position with the school now?
The Chair stated that the school was no longer in Special Measures, and the latest Ofsted report stated that it now ‘Required Improvement’.
17.3 There were none.