Parents start petition to fight cuts to school pupil numbers

Parents concerned about potential cuts in pupil numbers at four schools have started two petitions.

A public consultation is currently under way over Brighton and Hove City Council’s plans to reduce the intake at four primary schools in Hove and Portslade.

The consultation started in November and is due to finish on Monday 6 January.

This has caused concern among some parents because the consultation period includes the general election campaign and the two-week school Christmas holiday.

Changes would mean that “published admission numbers” for Hangleton Primary School, Mile Oak Primary School and West Hove Infant School (Connaught Road site) would drop from 90 to 60, resulting in one fewer reception class for each school.

Under the proposals, the intake at Hove Junior School in Connaught Road would drop from 128 to 90.

Mile Oak mum Sarah Pain started a petition on which attracted more than 400 signatures in two weeks.

She said: “I can’t speak for all parents but those I’ve spoken to are shocked and bewildered that the council are suggesting reducing the intake with the new housing development being built.

“They don’t think it’s a positive move. We had a consultation meeting with (the council’s) Families, Children and Learning staff and some parents were very vocal with their disapproval.

“The general feel was that the proposal was a knee-jerk response to save money and isn’t well thought through.

“Our local councillors, school governors and school leadership are all against the proposal.

“At the meeting the governors noted they were surprised they had been asked to be involved in putting the proposal together.

“If feels, yet again, like the community is having things done to it rather than with it.”

Clarion Housing Group is currently building 125 “affordable” homes between Overdown Rise and Mile Oak Road, with a mix of shared ownership and rented houses and flats.

Miss Pain said that the council’s prediction of 21 children moving on to the new estate was an under-estimate and that an intake of 60 would not accommodate the new families.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition against lowering numbers at Hangleton Primary School on Brighton and Hove City Council’s website.

It was set up by S Wilks and described the school as going from “strength to strength”.

The petition said: “We believe that if the numbers are reduced, parents would be turned away from a school of their choice.

“The consultation itself is unfair – as it is being held during purdah (election time) and a school holiday – so not allowing the school the time and freedoms to openly raise concerns.

“Hangleton Primary balances its budget and is not ‘in the red’. It has forecast itself to remain that way for the next few years. This means its staff can concentrate on providing high-quality education.”

Both petitions raise the issue of lost jobs if school numbers are reduced.

When the consultation was approved, the council’s head of school organisation Richard Barker said that the majority of surplus school places were in Portslade and Hove.

The consultation can be found on the council website here and closes on Thursday 6 January.

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