Ninja protest after Hove primary school ordered to take more pupils

Posted On 04 Apr 2014 at 6:09 pm

Youngsters dressed as ninjas are to join their parents in a protest outside the headquarters of Brighton and Hove City Council this afternoon (Friday April 4).

The protest comes after officials ordered Davigdor Infant School to find space for 30 more children.

The school, in Somerhill Road, Hove, has been told that it must take an extra class of pupils from September to help relieve the primary school places crisis.

Officials said that the decision was a “one-off” for the coming school year but revealed that the council had only told the school a few days ago about the plans.

Upset about “expansion by stealth”, a group of about 100 people were expected to march from the school this afternoon to the council’s King’s House HQ in Grand Avenue.

Hildi Mitchell

Hildi Mitchell

It came after a joint letter from acting head teacher Hildi Mitchell and chair of governors Simon Maurice was sent to parents to tell them the news.

It said: “This is a result of a shortage of school places for the increasing number of children living within south Hove who would otherwise be unable to secure a place at one of their three preferred choices.

“The authority wishes to ensure as far as possible that children can attend a local school and not be faced with long journeys to schools in other parts of the city.”

The letter went on to say that the request was made to representatives of the school on Friday 28 March.

After discussion, the governors responded and said that they could not support the move although they admitted that the final decision rested with the local authority.

The letter finished by saying that representatives from the council had agreed to meet parents and staff to explain their decision and that the meeting would be held in due course.

But, speaking as they collected up to 200 signatures against the move, parents said that they were upset about not being consulted about the expansion.

They also questioned whether it was fair, adding that Davigdor, which already has four forms in each year, had already accepted a “bulge” class in 2012.

Simon Maurice

Simon Maurice

In a statement provided to The Latest, the council said that it regretted the decision, adding that there were enough total spaces across the city to meet demand.

However, due to some areas being over-populated, the council said that it had “regrettably” asked Davigdor and Saltdean Primary School to take “bulge classes”.

A council spokesman said: “We understand the school’s reasons for not wanting this bulge class.

“We are very aware that the school’s governing body did not support our request to take an additional class and we recognise the challenges that directing them to do so will put on the school.

“However, we have concluded that the pressing need for local children to be able to go to a local school outweighs these reasons.

“Like many local authorities we base our pupil estimates on GP and census data.

“This has indicated rises in the primary age pupil population in recent years but a peak this year and the next with a reduction in numbers in subsequent years.

“However, we have no control over which school preferences parents choose to submit to us.

“We also have a high proportion of residents in the city whose homes are on short-term rent, leading to people moving house at short notice. So planning school places can never be an exact science.

“Rising primary pupil numbers is a national phenomenon. Local authorities all over the country have had to create bulge classes in recent years and this is not because of poor planning.

“In Brighton and Hove we have had to create bulge classes in five of the last seven years.”

  1. Kevin Meredith Reply

    You write a story about children dressing as ninjas but not photos of the little ninjas? Boo!

  2. Kevin Meredith Reply

    You write a story about children dressing as ninjas but not photos of the little ninjas? Boo!

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