Two Hove councillors have branded proposed school catchment changes “indefensible”.
Councillors Robert Nemeth and Garry Peltzer Dunn, who represent Wish Ward, made the comment after the head of Blatchington Mill spoke out about the plans.
The two councillors said that Blatch head Ashley Harrold’s statement undermined the underlying principles of the proposed changes.
The plans, if enacted by Brighton and Hove City Council, would see a series of secondary school catchment area changes which would come into force from September 2019.
Some pupils in the present combined Dorothy Stringer and Varndean School catchment would be sent to Blatch or Hove Park.
The knock-on effect would be that children in much of Wish Ward in West Hove would no longer be able to attend those schools.
Instead they would have to travel to the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) – some two miles further away.
Mr Harrold said last week that Blatch was able to accommodate every child in Hove who would be affected by the administration’s plans.
Indeed, he has made clear that classrooms will sit empty if children from Hove are prevented from attending.
Mr Harrold said: “I can unequivocally confirm that Blatchington Mill is in a position to admit more students into year 7 and therefore to accommodate all children in Wish Ward who would be affected by the proposed changes for 2019 onwards.
“Our sixth form is smaller than it has been in the past and we are starting a consultation on Monday for it to close entirely.
“We have also recently built new classrooms. Adding two extra forms from 2019 onwards is entirely feasible and would kick-start a number of improvements at the school – not least to our already excellent SEN provision.
“We have been clear to the local authority that we would wish to expand our intake in year 7 therefore cannot understand why this has not been considered within the projections for the catchment areas.”
Mr Harrold’s statement has led to many parents questioning why his school’s position was not accurately reflected in the contining consultation with the local community.
Some have also queried why the issue of the closure of Blatchington Mill’s sixth form was not included when it is key to solving the wider problem of student numbers.
Councillor Nemeth and Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: “We simply cannot understand why the administration would seek to prevent children in Wish, in Hove, from attending the schools closest to them.
“Forcing them to attend PACA removes choice, breaks up friendship groups and makes walking to school unsafe.
“When Blatchington Mill is able to accommodate all affected Wish children, the plans are now indefensible.
“We urge all Wish parents to respond to the consultation and sign the petition against the proposals. We will not be supporting these plans.”
The affected area in Hove includes all streets between (and including) Boundary Road and (but not Including) Wish Road. It equates to approximately two forms per school year.
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