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Brighton Journal | 22nd January 2020

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Budget crisis looms as schools struggle to fill classes

Budget crisis looms as schools struggle to fill classes
Georgia Hansen

Greens have called on the Labour Council to make long term plans in preparation for the looming school funding crisis.

The council has estimated that in September 2022, there will be 600 unfilled reception class places if there is no major reduction in the number of classes. The surplus of empty seats will strain school budgets, according to Greens.

Councillor Elaine Hills, who put forward the proposals, said:

“Unless the council takes action, there will be a large number of unfilled places at primary schools in the coming school year.

“This surplus will put huge pressure on school budgets. If schools cannot fill their classes, they will struggle to provide adequate resources, due to funding being allocated based purely on pupil numbers.”

Green councillors made the request when amending a report to the Children, Young People, and Skills Committee. They also recommended that Pupil Admission Numbers (PAN) be reduced at Hangleton Primary, West Hove Infant School, Mile Oak Primary, and Hove Junior School.

Hills said:

“Currently, schools that don’t meet their PAN still need to provide another teacher, if the number of children in a class exceeds 30 – even just by one pupil. Ultimately, it’s the children that suffer.”

The proposed reduction represents under 100 places, meaning this action alone won’t be enough to address the decrease in applicants. Greens have also emphasised the need for the council to prepare for long term issues including the future surplus of secondary school places.

Councillor Sarah Nield, a member of the School Organisation Working Group added:

“We have made some difficult changes to the September 2021 admission numbers today, but this will not solve the problem. We need to look at a long-term strategy for supporting our schools through their potential incoming budget crisis.”

Featured Image: © Wokandapix on Pixabay

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