The price of hundreds of spare school places in Portslade may have to be paid for in jobs

Posted On 17 Apr 2015 at 4:27 pm

Hundreds of school places have been left unfilled and teachers and support staff may have to pay the price with a loss of jobs.

The issue was flagged up by veteran Labour councillor Les Hamilton, who also serves as a school governor and worked as a teacher before he retired.

Councillor Hamilton spoke out as Brighton and Hove City Council said that more primary school parents had been given places for their children at their first preference school than last year.

Councillor Les Hamilton

Councillor Les Hamilton

The figure for next September suggest that 2,509 children (87.8 per cent) will go to their parents’ first choice school. Last year the figure was 2,392 (82.5 per cent).

A number of schools have expanded, with St Andrew’s and Saltdean Primary among the latest. It means that the number of pupils being “directed” to a school has fallen to 117 (4.1 per cent), down from 169 (5.8 per cent) last year.

But four schools in Portslade – where Councillor Hamilton lives and represents one of the two wards – have got dozens of places going spare. They are Benfield, Brackenbury, St Nicolas and Mile Oak.

Councillor Hamilton said that they are paying the price for a decision made in 2010 to add two extra classes a year to Benfield, turning the junior school into an all-through primary school.

He said: “We’re building up 60 extra places over seven years – that’s 420 extra places in total.

“The children that came into Benfield largely came in from Hove. I’ve been concerned about this for some time.

“If they’d made Benfield a bulge class this wouldn’t have happened. They should have made it temporary because we knew they were planning to expand in Hove.

“So now there are 76 spare places for four-year-olds at three schools – Benfield, Brackenbury and Mile Oak.

“Two schools – Brackenbury and St Nic’s – could take 124 junior school places in Year 3 but there are now at least 70 surplus places in Year 3. That will continue through  to Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6.

“In Portslade you’ve got 400 to 500 empty places in primary schools and that does have an effect on funding. You’ve either got to cut staff or find another way to reduce your budget.”

  1. Robert Suhonen Reply

    The council was made well aware of the likelihood of this happening during the consultation process for the expansion of St Andrews. They chose to ignore the concerns of schools in Portslade and are wasting £2.5 million of desperately needed funds in the process. Councillors Andrew Wealls and Sue Shanks in particular have a lot to answer for.

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