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Admissions Changes For East Sussex Schools

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 6:00am

By Huw Oxburgh - Local Democracy Reporter

A Newhaven primary school is set to change its admissions policy, a move which could potentially make it harder for some pupils to secure a place.

On Monday (February 22), Cllr Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education, signed off on proposals to change the admissions area of Denton Community Primary School in Newhaven. 

The new boundary will run along the east bank of the River Ouse, with children within the boundary considered at a higher priority when it comes into effect next year. 

The county council says the change was proposed as the school has been oversubscribed in recent years, with some families unable to secure places despite it being the closest school to them. 

The new boundary would not make it impossible for families outside of the area to secure a place at the school, although they would be considered at a lower priority than those who live within it.

The exception would be for children whose siblings already attend the school, who will be considered at the same priority as those within the boundary (as long as they lived within the previous Newhaven community area).

Newhaven currently has three other primary schools which would continue to serve the rest of the town. They are: Breakwater Academy, Harbour Primary and Nursery School and the High Cliff Academy.

Neither of the academies use the community area to determine eligibility for places, with home-to-school distance the only geographical element used in their priorities.

The changes will first come into effect during the 2022/23 school year.

Any objection to these arrangements can then be made to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator until May 15.

Lewes

Two Lewes schools are set to reduce the number of new pupils they take on each year.

On Monday (February 22), Cllr Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education, signed off on proposals to change the admissions arrangements of Wallands Community Primary School and Southover CE Primary School.

Both schools are to expected to reduce the maximum number of pupils to be admitted into each year group, known as their Published Admissions Number (PAN). Under the changes Wallands is to reduce its PAN from 60 to 30, while Southover is to reduce its share from 60 to 45.

According to the county council, the move comes after the schools’ headteachers raised concerns about falling numbers over the past few years. 

They say this has made the current structure of admitting two classes each year unsustainable and – with a large proportion of school income awarded on a per pupil basis -could leave them struggling to cover their costs.

In a report to Cllr Standley, a council officer said: “Reducing the PANs as set out above would address the number of surplus places in the Lewes area while retaining the flexibility to restore the PAN at either or both schools should the need arise, given that the accommodation at the schools will still be on site.

“One response to the consultation was received expressing concern about sufficiency of school places, but the PAN can be increased without  consultation, so the recommendation is that this change should go ahead as it can be easily reversed.”

At the same meeting, Cllr Standley also approved plans to increase the PAN of Chailey School from 162 to 174.

The council says this was to reflect the increased demand for places at the school, particularly from residents of the new estates to the south of Haywards Heath and to the east of Burgess Hill, parts of which fall within East Sussex. 

Officers said this can be achieved within the school’s existing accommodation and organisational structure and without detriment to other East Sussex schools.

The changes will first come into effect during the 2022/23 school year.

Any objection to these arrangements can then be made to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator until May 15.

Eastbourne

An Eastbourne school is set to reduce the number of pupils it takes on each year.

On Monday (February 22), Cllr Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education, signed off on proposals to change the admissions arrangements for Motcombe Community Infant School.

As a result, the school is expected to reduce the maximum number of pupils it admits each year – known as its Published Admissions Number (PAN) – from 120 to 90. 

The county council says the change is intended to reflect a falling demand and to “ensure the future sustainability of this school and others in the surrounding area.” 

The changes will first come into effect during the 2022/23 school year.

Any objection to these arrangements can then be made to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator until May 15.

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