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) Hangleton Primary School pupil admission number Consultation – Sarah Wilks
(b) Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 7th January 2020;
(c) Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 7th January 2020.
(i) Hangleton Primary School
45.1 The Committee a considered a petition signed by 1066 people requesting Brighton & Hove City Council abandon its proposals to permanently reduce Hangleton Primary School pupil admission numbers.
45.2 The Committee considered a petition signed by 540 people requesting Brighton & Hove City Council reject the enforced permanent reduction in pupil numbers at Mile Oak Primary.
45.3 The Chair provided the following response:
“Thank you both for your clear presentations and the representations you have made. I know how concerned you are, so I am going to respond in some detail to the issues you have raised.
The Council’s Cross-Party School Organisation Working Group reviews pupil number projections for Brighton & Hove and considers actions required to ensure there are enough school places for children and young people. The Working Group makes decisions on a cross party consensus wherever possible.
I and the all members of the group appreciate that there are no easy answers and that decisions will have an impact upon both the families and schools affected. We all want a good and viable school in local communities. We are also working within the requirements of the Code of Practice issued by the DfE. As our figures currently stand we will also need to look at this matter again in futures years.
We really understand that there are strong views from both Mile Oak Primary School and Hangleton Primary School and their communities about the proposal to reduce the Published Admission Number at the two schools from three forms of entry to two.
Ofsted have judged Hangleton Primary School as Good with an Outstanding judgement for leadership and management.
The school’s Executive Head – Emma Lake - is a National Leader of Education who works in partnership with the Council’s team to support schools in need of improvement. It’s chair of governors - Jenny Barnard-Langston - is a National Leader of Governance and the school also leads a successful teaching school.
We are very proud and grateful for the school’s success and its role in the city. It is valued by the local authority and the city’s Education Partnership. I was most impressed with the atmosphere, evident commitment and engagement of both staff and pupils when I visited the school in November 2019.
Mile Oak Primary School has a more recently appointed Head (Luke Lording) and Deputy (Emma Gale) who have a strong track record of school improvement. Alongside the school’s senior leadership team they are driving forward significant improvements throughout the school. They have the support of an experienced Chair of Governors (Rosalind Turner) and Board of Governors that includes three Local Leaders of Governance (Allistare Smedley; Stephen Berry and Christine Bartley). We value the hard work the school staff, governors and pupils.
I do want to emphasise that proposing a reduction in Published Admission Numbers at any school is in no way a reflection on the quality of education at either of these schools. We would expect the same high-quality education to continue if the schools become two forms of entry.
In the BN3 8 postcode area there is a projection of over 60 surplus places in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Hangleton is a three-form entry school in this planning area, although has been temporarily reduced to 2 forms by the Schools Adjudicator.
In Portslade there are projected to be over 90 surplus places in the coming years and Mile Oak is also a three-form entry school, although this was also temporarily reduced by the school’s adjudicator.
The council has a strategic role in pupil place planning and has to look at the impact of reducing pupil numbers on the whole family of schools in the city as well as understanding the issues and concerns each school may have.
The council’s pupil forecast tool uses GP registration data to look at the future numbers of pupils and available school spaces across the city.
It is very clear that over the coming years we will there will be a significant reduction in primary aged pupils needing a school place.
Across the city we expect the following numbers of children to need a place in a city school if no changes to Published Admission Numbers:
This year there is predicted to be 349 spaces, rising to 719 by 2023.
I know that there have been questions about the validity of the council’s pupil forecasting particularly in relation to new housing in the Mile Oak area. Forecasts are based on known factors and assumptions derived from experience. I would like to assure you that the council’s forecasting method has been audited by external consultants and found to provide a reasonable level of accuracy.
The reduction of children needing a place is putting schools in challenging financial circumstances, with empty places and less funding available per pupil. Head teachers and governors across the city feel strongly that action needs to be taken to address this issue.
So the council is currently focusing on planning areas in the city where there is forecast to be a significant reduction in pupil numbers over the next few years.
The approach has been to identify larger schools in these areas where reduction is predicted which could reduce in size in order to avoid closing schools or to reduce any schools to one form of entry, which itself can cause issues with their financial viability over time.
This strategy is intended to support schools so that they are not faced with the financial implications of operating small classes.
If PAN numbers at a school are reduced there is the ability to increase capacity again if and when pupil numbers increase.
While we understand both schools have balanced budgets at present, maintaining the schools as three form entry schools with falling pupil numbers could jeopardise this.
Hangleton received 53 first preferences applications, 54 preferences in total last September and Mile Oak received 54 first preferences applications, 57 preferences in total. So, neither school were able to fill more than two classes and whilst the council was able to request a temporary reduction in Published Admissions Number, this may not be possible or even agreed by the schools adjudicator for future years.
If the number of classes at the schools were permanently reduced to 2 forms of entry this would enable the schools to plan and maintain their budget effectively going forward.
While reducing the Published Admissions Number of a school must be done through the consultation process, increasing a school’s admissions number can be achieved outside of this process. In this way as and when pupil numbers increase, the schools can again increase in size without the need for a consultation or for a decision to be made by the School’s Adjudicator.
The consultation process and timescales for reducing Published Admission Numbers are set in government legislation, and can only be conducted between 1st October and 31st January. Any changes to admission arrangements must be determined by 28th February.
The consultation process must also fit in with the scheduled committee meetings of the Council. It was not possible to start the consultation this year before the CYPS committee on 11th November 2019 and it has to have been concluded by this meeting today (13th January 2020). We recognise that the timescales for these consultation processes has been challenging due to the impact of an general election being called on 12 December, the usual end of term pressures on schools including the winter break celebrations. However, the consultation was open for 7 compete weeks which allowed for the statutory 6 week period.”
45.4 RESOLVED – that the Committee note the petitions.
(B) WRITTEN QUESTIONS
45.5 The Chair noted that NO written questions had been submitted by members of the public.
45.6 The Chair noted that NO deputations had been submitted by members of the public.