Secondary school plans to move to Hangleton

Posted On 03 Jul 2015 at 11:58 pm

The newest secondary school in Brighton and Hove is preparing to move to a new site.

The King’s School is planning to move to Hangleton to the site currently occupied by West Blatchington Primary School.

The plans would include replacement premises for West Blatch being built in the nine-acre grounds or near by.

The proposal is to go before the Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee of Brighton and Hove City Council when it meets at the Brighthelm Centre on Thursday (9 July).

The Spearhead

Councillors are being asked to approve further discussions with the King’s School, which is currently based at an unsuitable site in High Street, Portslade, where the main building is 102 years old.

The King's School currently occupies a 102-year-old building in Portslade

The King’s School currently occupies a 102-year-old building in Portslade

The discussions also involve the Education Funding Agency (EFA), the governors of West Blatch and the organisation behind the King’s School, the Russell Education Trust (RET).

The (P&R) committee is also being asked to confirm that the council is willing to lease the land for a peppercorn rent for 125 years.

A report has been sent to members of the (P&R) Committee. It said: “King’s is temporarily located on the former sixth form site of Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) in High Street, Portslade.

“This site is not large enough for King’s once it is full and is not well located for the school’s key partner CE (Church of England) primary schools in Hove.”

King’s, which opened in September 2013, can take up to 150 pupils in each year group plus a sixth form.

The report to councillors said: “The EFA is responsible for securing a permanent site for the school and funding its development and it has been working with the council, King’s and RET to identify a suitable site.

“Like other academies and free schools in the city, King’s is committed to working in partnership with the council and other schools in the city as part of the citywide family of schools.

“It also forms part of the strategy for securing sufficient secondary school places as the number of secondary age children increases.

West Blatchington Primary School - picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Simon Carey

West Blatchington Primary School – picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Simon Carey

“West Blatchington Primary School is a two form entry primary school with a nursery and a special unit for children with autistic spectrum condition.

“It occupies a site on the northern edge of Hangleton, bounded to the north by the bypass and to the east by Toads Hole Valley.

“The site area is 3.8 hectares, which is large for a primary school of this size, and a significant part of the site is playing field or open space.

“The school was formed from an amalgamation of the former West Blatchington Infant and Junior Schools but still occupies the adjacent but separate buildings of these two former schools.

“It also has a number of mobile classrooms, including those occupied by the nursery and the special unit.

“The EFA has approached the council with a request that the West Blatchington Primary School site be considered as the location for a permanent site for King’s School.

“The EFA has been clear in initial discussions that it recognises the project would need to include a replacement for the primary school, including the nursery and the special unit, either on its existing site or on another site.

“The most suitable option would be to replace the primary school on part of its present site.

Plans to build on the Cardinal Newman and BHASVIC playing fields were dropped after the Hove v Gove campaign

Plans to build on the Cardinal Newman and BHASVIC playing fields were dropped after the Hove v Gove campaign

“Extensive site searches by the EFA and the council have not identified a suitable alternative permanent site for King’s School.

“An earlier proposal in 2013 that the school should be developed on the Cardinal Newman and BHASVIC playing fields in Old Shoreham Road was withdrawn by the DfE (Department for Education) in light of substantial public opposition.

“King’s School will soon outgrow its current temporary location and it is not possible to provide sufficient accommodation on that site, which in any case is poorly located for the school’s admissions policy, which includes a focus on Hove.

“The school provides essential additional capacity to meet the city’s need for secondary school places.

“The school sent a letter to parents informing them of the proposal and giving them an opportunity to comment.

“King’s School has also informed its parents by letter of the proposal. It is understood that while some parents considered the location not to be ideal for the main area of the school’s intake, the majority of parents who commented have welcomed the opportunity to secure a permanent site in Hove.

Toads Hole Valley

Toads Hole Valley

“King’s School is essential to the secondary school places provision for the city.

“It cannot remain on its current temporary site as the accommodation will not be large enough for all the school’s year groups plus a sixth form and it is not feasible to expand the accommodation suitably on this site.

“The proposal provides an opportunity to bring together West Blatchington Primary School, including its nursery and the special unit, in a single building and to remove its dependence on mobile classrooms.

“The capital costs of this improvement will be met by the EFA.

“There are no known alternatives for a permanent site for King’s. Although the site presents challenges in terms of accommodating both schools and planning issues, it also presents significant opportunities for both schools.

“For the two academies, BACA (the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy) and PACA, these sites are shortly to be granted 125-year leases at peppercorn rent.

“So doing the same for King’s School would be a consistent approach and would not commit the council to any further financial implications.

“Agreement from the EFA would be needed to ensure that they would be willing to redevelop the West Blatchington Primary school on to one site at no cost to the council.”

The main buildings on the West Blatch date from the 1950s.

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