Brighton parent offers education chiefs a geography lesson with school catchments petition

Posted On 06 Jun 2016 at 6:44 pm

A Brighton parent has challenged education chiefs to think about the geography around schools as they look at catchment areas.

Ben Varey, of Friar Road, pleaded with them not to split his local community – as would happen if the council adopted any of the three options currently under consideration.

Mr Varey also made a point of doing his sums out loud as he highlighted the distances pupils would have travel unless different catchments are drawn up.

He lives 500 metres from Dorothy Stringer School but his street is not in any of the three current proposed catchments.

It prompted him to present a petition to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee this afternoon (Monday 6 June).

He said that it had been signed by 137 people, “representing about 95 per cent of the houses in and around Friar Road”.

Dorothy Stringer School entrance

Mr Varey said: “Friar Road is less than half a mile from Dorothy Stringer – or 500 metres across the field – yet none of the options give our children access to Dorothy Stringer.”

Yet one option would give access to Dorothy Stringer to families in Ashdown Avenue, Saltdean, which is 11,500 metres or 23 times further away, he said.

Another option, he added, “would not give us access to either of our local schools. With two secondary schools right on our doorstep, this defies logic.

“In all the current options the catchment boundaries around Dorothy Stringer are severe and would split our children from their peer group.”

Mr Varey pointed out that the council had previously said that it aimed for all catchment areas “to accommodate children living in the area”.

And that Brighton University had reported that “the most significant priority for students was to attend the same school as their close friends”.

Mr Varey said: “The proposals as they currently stand do not meet these aspirations.

“Please let our children walk to their local secondary schools and continue to feel part of our community.”

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick, who chairs the Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said that the current consultation was a “pre-statutory consultation”.

Already there had been several public meetings and more than 1,600 responses. Councillor Bewick said: “There is obviously a huge amount of interest out there in the community.”

With a new secondary school being planned, he said, this and the responses received so far would be evaluated before proposals were drawn up for the statutory consultation to come.

  1. Warren Reply

    The proposals currently put forward are totally mad. If someone is not allowed to go to two schools within walking distance of their house, but instead have to be bussed several miles away, because of how catchment areas are drawn up, then it’s a bad system.

    I know there are people who live far from a school who will have to be bussed there whatever happens. But it is not a good idea to force thousands of children across the city past each other to get to school. That’s just ill-thought out madness that damages schools and communities as it breaks them up and means schools are not a valued part of a local community.

  2. Shmuzz Reply

    You could also argue that plenty of children aren’t getting the choices they’ve made because of catchment areas, personally my children wanted varndean or stringer but because of our post code they were given Baca and longhill, of which they will not be going to, I think there shouldn’t be a catchment so that children get the opportunity to go to decent schools.

    • Barney Reply

      So its OK for children to be bussed past two local schools to one on the other side of town? How about the council concentrate on making sure every child has access to a good local school.

      • Fredy Reply

        Well said.

        If parents were not so desperate to get their children away from BACA, it might turn out to be a decent school. It needs it’s local community to support it and want to go there, rather than doing all they can to avoid it and then resenting the school if they do end up there. What impression is it giving the children who end up there given the parent’s reaction?

  3. gizbong messiah Reply

    a school is a school is a school, with parent involvment and dedicated staff (where are the teachers committed to education and scholarly/academic advancement these days?, oh yes they ahve to be plugged in to the government systems of grading ability, so we have people to fill the shit end jobs in the future and well the ones whom have access to ‘good’ education (usually privately funded) will end up in the positions of power, control, decision making etc.. oh the wheel keeps on turning!!! what is needed is MASS action, all parents pulling their children out of school and therefor not going to work themselves, effectively mass/national striking and bringing the nation to a standstill.. only then when we have sized up to the powers that be, (government) will we be heard or listened to, and if that doesnt work theres always revolution….

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