Intake number cut at Brighton school

The number of children able to attend a Brighton infant school is being formally reduced to protect the school’s budget.

Hertford Infant School, in Hertford Road, can usually accept up to 60 children in two classes – known as two forms of entry – but just 30 youngsters are due to start in September.

Brighton and Hove City Council applied to the schools adjudicator to reduce the published admission number (PAN) to 30 this year.

This would prevent any extra children from joining the school’s reception class after the start of term unless another child left first.

The council said that the request was made in the school’s best interests with the full support of the governors and members of the council’s cross-party school organisation working group.

The reduction is for one year only so that if enough parents apply to send their children to Hertford Infant School next year, the school could once again have two reception classes.

The schools adjudicator Deborah Pritchard said that if the admission number remained at 60, any extra pupils would strain the school’s budget.

She said: “If I were to agree the reduction of the PAN to 30, then there is minimal risk to frustrating parental preference. This is because 30 offers have been made after all applications have been considered.

“If more children need a place in the area of the school, then there are vacant places at other schools which are less than a mile from the school, so no child would have to go far to an alternative school.

“If the PAN were to remain at 60, then the local authority would have to admit any child applying for a place in reception at the school (at least up until 60 had been admitted) until July 2023.

“Admitting just over 30 children is likely to cause the governing board financial costs that could be avoided if the PAN were reduced to 30.

“In addition, if just over 30 children were admitted sometime between now and July 2023, then there could be disruption to class organisation which could affect the education of the children as well as increase costs to the school.”

Last year 36 pupils received offers to start in reception and 44 youngsters were offered places at the school in 2020.

In 2017, parents fought the council’s plan to reduce the school’s intake to one form of entry.

The council’s director of families, children and learning at that time, Pinaki Ghoshal, told parents at a public meeting that council forecasts indicated that Hertford Infant School would not attract 60 pupils a year.

And the school’s nursery closed last year because of falling numbers.

A report to councillors said that forecasts estimated that parents would apply for 1,930 reception places in primary and infant schools in September 2025 – a downward trend.

When the new school year starts in September, 17 schools with more than one form of entry are expected to be undersubscribed, according to council figures.

The council abandoned plans to reduce numbers at seven primary schools for September 2023 after a lengthy campaign by parents.

Four schools – Brunswick, Downs and Goldstone primary schools and Stanford Infant School – all successfully appealed against proposed cuts to their intakes from September 2022.

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