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;
(i) Give our Children a Secondary School Place in Catchment
(ii) Queens Park Nursery School
(b) Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 12 June 2017;
(c) Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 12 June 2017.
(i) Give our children a secondary school place in catchment- Martin Dominy
6.1 The Committee considered a petition signed by 1446 people and referred from the meeting of Full Council on 6 April that requested the council to commit to giving a place to children who were not allocated any of their three preferences of catchment school.
6.2 The Chair provided the following response:
“Thank you for your petition.
I completely understand the concerns that you have raised having taken the decision as Chair to give time to an emergency deputation at the Children, Young People & Skills Committee in March shortly after school allocations were made on National Offer Day.
It is understood that behind the processes and headlines there are real children and families who are affected by the decisions made when school places are allocated. The council has to ensure that there are sufficient school places for all those who need them and have admission arrangements which serve all the city’s schools. Whilst every effort is made to offer a place at a child’s catchment school this cannot be guaranteed. Careful consideration must be given to the capacity of a school to admit additional children.
Whilst admission appeals for September 2017 are still on-going, the committee will be interested to learn that of the 57 pupils living in the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean catchment area 22 pupils have been offered Dorothy Stringer or Varndean either through the reallocation pool or appeals process, 8 pupils have been offered a place at an alternative preferred school.
Officers have spent time ensuring the affected families have understood why the allocation of school places and the management of the reallocation pool had to be run in a prescribed way and those affected have had the opportunity to make an appeal to an independent panel”.
6.3 RESOLVED- That the petition be noted.
(ii) Queens Park Nursery- Mark Mitchell
6.4 The Committee considered a petition signed by 593 people and referred from the meeting of Full Council on 6 April that requested the council to find against the proposal to shut the nursery at Queens Park Primary School.
6.5 The Chair provided the following response:
“The council values the quality of the nursery provision at Queen’s Park primary school and acknowledges the strength of opposition from parents at the school to its proposed closure. The reasons that the school’s head teacher and governors have requested that the council raise the school’s lower age range from three to four and close the nursery class are set out in the report being presented to this committee; low numbers of children on roll mean that the nursery is not sustainable and is consequently being subsidised by the wider school budget. Whilst a decision such as this is always difficult to consider, there is other high quality early years and childcare provision in the city for children from Queen’s Park”.
6.6 RESOLVED- That the petition be noted.
(b) Written Questions
(i) Proposal to lower the age limit of Queens Park School
6.7 Zoe Milton read the following question:
“I would like to ask the committee why they have chosen to approve this proposal when the senior leadership team has no support from their community or staff members?”
6.8 The Chair provided the following response:
“Thank you for your question. The Committee has not yet approved the proposal and will consider the matter later on in the agenda at Item 11 when all the responses to the statutory notices will be considered”
6.9 Zoe Milton asked the following supplementary question:
“As the parents have been given no information as to why the school has made this choice, (other than the small financial issues with the SLT approved reduction in numbers) can the committee tell us whether it has investigated why the Senior Leadership Team is so determined to continue with the closure despite such massive community opposition especially when offers of help have been resolutely ignored?”
6.10 The Chair provided the following reply:
“I can assure you both as Chair of this Committee and ward councillor for the area; I have listened to residents’ concerns and asked officers to speak with the school regarding all alternative options. This is a matter for the school however, the council is subsidising to the cost of one teacher. It is a difficult decision but this committee will have to have a view on the implications for the school”