Brighton and Hove’s primary school places crisis revealed
11:00am Friday 18th April 2014 in Education
Nearly all of Brighton and Hove’s primary schools are drastically oversubscribed, new figures have revealed.
Thousands of oldsters revealed this week if their child had gained a spot in a single in their preferred schools following months of hysteria.
a complete of two,731 places were offered at schools chosen in parents’ three preferences but 169 children were offered places on the next closest school with room available.
South Hove and Saltdean are the areas most influenced by the high variety of applications although the council says there are sufficient places overall to fulfill the growing demand for places.
However the council has admitted that not the entire places are being offered within the right locations, with some parents being forced to travel miles clear of their homes to get their child to faculty.
A report compiled by Pinaki Ghoshal, executive director of children’s services at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “We have worked hard during the last eight to 10 years with the intention that there are sufficient primary school places, within the right locations, for the increasing variety of children reaching compulsory school age every year.”
Since 2005 the council has created 345 newreception class places amid a complete of two,415 places – within the areas that show the best demand.
More places are expected to be created this year at West Hove Infant School’s Connaught Road site and on the Holland Road site if you want to be managed by West Hove Junior School.
But lately some schools has been forced to tackle “bulge” classes to satisfy demand – Davigdor Infant school is set to have its second class added in three years.
In step with the newest school place figures, Downs Infant School has received essentially the most interest from parents with 145 first preferences declared for the varsity.
It also received 140 second preferences and 57 third preferences for its 120 available places.
A higher greatest school is Davigdor Infant, which got 142 first preferences – of which 130 were successful.
But some parents were left totally disappointed after failing to land any in their top three preferences and at the moment are facing the chance of getting to travel long distances to a different school, or maybe refusing where and arranging their very own provision.
The selection of children who weren’t offered an area at a popular school rose this year to 169 – 5.8% – compared with 134 – 4.85% – the year before.
Many fogeys were left fuming by the council’s offer of an area that was not of their top three picks.
Among those angry parents is Francesca Hood in Hove and with one child already going to a college nearby she have been hoping her other child would gain a spot at Davigdor.
But she says she is nowbeing forced to refuse a suggestion of a spot at Coombe Road Primary School, which was not on her preference list, because she will be unable to get both her children to their schools on time because they’ve been placed to date far from one another.
“I have a nine-year-old who goes to faculty across the corner from where we are living and it’s impossible to get my fouryear- old to this one which they’ve offered.
“The council haven’t offered any explanation, it’s just the same old in an effort to take the faculty place up or not and in the event you don’t then what educational needs or provisions will you be making on your child, which right nowis none because I’m counting on the local council to do this.”
She said the council’s decision had left her no choice but to appeal where and called at the council to be more transparent when it came to allocating lower preferences.
She added: “I don’t see why I must have the responsibility. I’m going to attract get her right into a school that’s within walking distance, the entire point of this council is getting people out in their cars but they’ve given me an area that suggests i need to drive across Brighton.
“I even have a two-year-old so that’s going to be a difficulty besides.
“It’s farcical quite frankly.
“My first choice was Davigdor who’ve installed a brand new class for 30 extra places. I’m looking down the list and i’ve to assert quite frankly there must be more transparency.
“I’m just wondering where a majority of these children who haven’t got their places have ended up. There must be much more transparency regarding places, i believe we’re owed that.”
Another criticism the mum-of-three levelled on the council was that they offered her an area at a university that she would need to drive past other schools to get to.
“Even if they’d given me Balfour it might be better as i’ll pass that college going to the faculty they’d offered me, that’s the irony of the placement. They’ve given me a college it’s so ridiculously far-off.
“It’s nonsense, it is. I’m now competent where I’ve got to refuse a faculty place, which makes me answerable for providing the education because I can’t get my child to college without it affecting my other child.”
The selection of successful first preference applications within the city has risen this year from 2,323 to two,392 although the proportion of successful first preferences has dropped from 84.07% last year to 82.5% this time.
The Argus has exclusively reported at the growing school place crisis on the city’s secondary schools.
Earlier this month councillors warned that places for pupilsmoving up from primary schools could run out by 2017 due to an absence of provision.
In addition they highlighted that the issue of primary school places were a controversy since 2003 and because of this was starting to impact on later education places.
Brighton and Hove Labour leader Warren Morgan said the most recent figures showed a failing of the Government’s policy on school place provision.
He said: “This clearly shows the market system introduced by the Conservative-led Government seriously is not providing the places we’d like.
“We are supporting the cross-party Local Government Association’s demands the planning and provision of college places to be returned to local authorities.”
But Conservative spokesman for kids and Adolescents Andrew Wealls said the opposition party had didn’t offer another and accused t h e other parties at the council of doing nothing in regards to the longrunning problem.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned we had a partial technique to this in September last year once we referred to t urning Kings House right into a primary school , which might have created 90 places in part of the town that needs it most.
“The council had a possibility to get this right last September and flunked it.
“We’re going to have this debate nowwhich the Greens are desperate to not have and all you get from Labour is a barrage of criticism. It just makes me angry that we’ve got a continuing debate each year and nothing is finished about it.
“It’s ridiculous. My group are the sole ones that give you positive things in this. I’ve tried and tried to bring them on board and it’s just unbelievable and now we’re seeing the effects of it.”
Brighton and Hove City Council has claimed that they’re unable to correctly plan for primary place provision beyond three to four years since the children taking on places beyond that haven’t been born yet.
The report by Mr Ghoshal claims that the standard expectation in a cycle is that application numbers grow over a 12 to fifteen-year period before reaching a peak after which slowly declining.
The council’s own figures – backed up by 2013 GP registers – suggest that the variety of children aged four and over will peak next year and in 2016 after which may begin to reduce.
Officials are currently reviewing whether or not they should create more permanent places or continue to provide temporary bulge classes once the choice of applications begin to peak.
A spokesman for the council’s leading Green party said the council’s figures compared favourably to other local authorities.
They said: “A total of 82.5% of oldsters still got their first preference, that is great when compared with another local authorities; and the demand shows how popular our infants’ schools are, where performance is above the national average.”
This year greater than 94% of schoolchildren within the city were offered one in all their three preferred schools with about 70 more children being offered their first choice.
The choice of applications received in the deadline increased by 170 to two,933 from 2,762 last year.
Mr Ghoshal added: “I’m pleased that we’ve got been ready to offer this sort of high proportion of oldsters one in all their preferred schools, particularly since the variety of applications is up by 170 this year.”
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “More than 94% of schoolchildren in Brighton and Hove were offered considered one of their three preferred schools during this year’s primary age admissions round, with nearly 70 more children offered an area at their first preference school.
“Where the council has not been capable of meet any of the 3 preferred schools, parents has been offered an area on the nearest school that has places available.”
TOP TEN FIRST PREFERENCE APPLICATIONS
- Downs Infant School: 145 (113 successful)
- Davigdor Infant School: 142 (130 successful)
- Balfour Primary School: 131 (113 successful)
- St Luke’s Primary School: 125 (88 successful)
- St Andrew’s CE Primary School: 121 (60 successful)
- Goldstone Primary School: 116 (86 successful)
- Patcham Infant School: 95 (80 successful)
- Hangleton Infant School: 84 (73 successful)
- Saltdean Primary School: 82 (82 successful)
- Cottesmore St Mary RC Primary: 76 (59 successful)