More than 115 children miss out on Brighton and Hove secondary school places

First published in News by , Chief reporter

More than 100 Brighton and Hove children have missed out on a place at all three of their chosen secondary schools.

More than 95% of schoolchildren in Brighton and Hove have been offered one of their three preferred schools in this year’s secondary school admissions round. 

But 115 pupils were not offered places at any of their choices, up from 66 last year.

And 22 of those children have missed out on a school place despite living in the catchment area.

The large number of pupils missing out on oversubscribed schools could see Brighton and Hove’s controversial admissions system scrapped.

Have you or your children missed out on your chosen school?

What do you think of the current admissions system? 

Please leave a comment below or email emily.walker@theargus.co.uk

Comments (8)

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12:15pm Tue 4 Mar 14

s&k says...

Surely 22 children can be accommodated in schools in their catchment areas?!
Surely 22 children can be accommodated in schools in their catchment areas?! s&k
  • Score: 2

2:19pm Tue 4 Mar 14

busybrightonian says...

My child is one of the 22 in the Varndean/ Dorothy Stringer catchment area. I am incredibly annoyed at this and at the lack of quality school places across Brighton which is why they have this insane lottery system. Why shouldn't my child go to either of his 2 local schools?
My child is one of the 22 in the Varndean/ Dorothy Stringer catchment area. I am incredibly annoyed at this and at the lack of quality school places across Brighton which is why they have this insane lottery system. Why shouldn't my child go to either of his 2 local schools? busybrightonian
  • Score: 6

2:24pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Quiterie says...

Let's be absolutely clear what is going on here. The blame for the 22 children sent out of their catchment area (Dorothy Stringer/Varndean) lies with the Council. 2 years ago the Council changed the boundary between the 2 dual catchment areas (the boundary between Dorothy Stringer/Varndean and Blatchington Mill/Hove Park). It was moved to allow 70 or 80 children each year in the Stanford area to attend Dorothy Stringer or Varndean instead of Blatchington Mill or Hove Park.

It was clear from the data available at the time that there simply weren't enough places at Dorothy Stringer and Varndean to accommodate all these extra children in the coming years. The Council was repeatedly warned during the consultation for this change that they were creating a big problem in the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean catchment area. The councillors who sat on the committee that waved through this change were all warned that they were creating a big problem. Presumably they did this for 'political' reasons.

The impact of this decision is now becoming fully apparent. Children who live next to Dorothy Stringer/Varndean are being sent to schools miles away. Hove Park is massively undersubscribed this year as a result of reduced numbers in their catchment area and children in Portslade are filling some of the spare places at Hove Park which has a huge knock-on effect on the numbers attending PACA (Portslade) which is also massively undersubscribed. And this is at the same time that PACA is spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money expanding. You seriously couldn't make it up.

So when the Council issue a press release like they did yesterday that says "catchment areas were carefully designed to reflect the numbers of pupils and school places available in each area" please be under no illusion that this is complete and utter rubbish.
Let's be absolutely clear what is going on here. The blame for the 22 children sent out of their catchment area (Dorothy Stringer/Varndean) lies with the Council. 2 years ago the Council changed the boundary between the 2 dual catchment areas (the boundary between Dorothy Stringer/Varndean and Blatchington Mill/Hove Park). It was moved to allow 70 or 80 children each year in the Stanford area to attend Dorothy Stringer or Varndean instead of Blatchington Mill or Hove Park. It was clear from the data available at the time that there simply weren't enough places at Dorothy Stringer and Varndean to accommodate all these extra children in the coming years. The Council was repeatedly warned during the consultation for this change that they were creating a big problem in the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean catchment area. The councillors who sat on the committee that waved through this change were all warned that they were creating a big problem. Presumably they did this for 'political' reasons. The impact of this decision is now becoming fully apparent. Children who live next to Dorothy Stringer/Varndean are being sent to schools miles away. Hove Park is massively undersubscribed this year as a result of reduced numbers in their catchment area and children in Portslade are filling some of the spare places at Hove Park which has a huge knock-on effect on the numbers attending PACA (Portslade) which is also massively undersubscribed. And this is at the same time that PACA is spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money expanding. You seriously couldn't make it up. So when the Council issue a press release like they did yesterday that says "catchment areas were carefully designed to reflect the numbers of pupils and school places available in each area" please be under no illusion that this is complete and utter rubbish. Quiterie
  • Score: 17

4:17pm Tue 4 Mar 14

M&P of the Dean says...

This was entirely predictiable.

At some point the Council were going to give up/forget/not care about the catchments “catching” and now parents who applied for both Stringer and Varndean have been sent elsewhere.

That is an absolute disgrace.

There are 115 who missed out on all of their choices but it looks like many of those didnt choose catchment schools (at their peril). Some 22 in Stringer/Varndean and maybe more in other catchments didn’t get a place at schools “in catchment“ despite applying - that is the disgrace.

How can this be allowed to stand?
I would appeal and use the comments from the Director of Schools and Head of Admissions at Brighton Council when this system was introduced when they promised catchments "would catch" all the pupils in them. This was also reconfirmed by Sue Shanks (Green).

This is a fundamental failure to meet an important promise given by this council. It was one of the factors that persuaded the National Schools Adjudicator to let this awful system operate in the first place.

OBJECT.
This was entirely predictiable. At some point the Council were going to give up/forget/not care about the catchments “catching” and now parents who applied for both Stringer and Varndean have been sent elsewhere. That is an absolute disgrace. There are 115 who missed out on all of their choices but it looks like many of those didnt choose catchment schools (at their peril). Some 22 in Stringer/Varndean and maybe more in other catchments didn’t get a place at schools “in catchment“ despite applying - that is the disgrace. How can this be allowed to stand? I would appeal and use the comments from the Director of Schools and Head of Admissions at Brighton Council when this system was introduced when they promised catchments "would catch" all the pupils in them. This was also reconfirmed by Sue Shanks (Green). This is a fundamental failure to meet an important promise given by this council. It was one of the factors that persuaded the National Schools Adjudicator to let this awful system operate in the first place. OBJECT. M&P of the Dean
  • Score: 4

6:02pm Tue 4 Mar 14

Quiterie says...

M&P of the Dean wrote:
This was entirely predictiable.

At some point the Council were going to give up/forget/not care about the catchments “catching” and now parents who applied for both Stringer and Varndean have been sent elsewhere.

That is an absolute disgrace.

There are 115 who missed out on all of their choices but it looks like many of those didnt choose catchment schools (at their peril). Some 22 in Stringer/Varndean and maybe more in other catchments didn’t get a place at schools “in catchment“ despite applying - that is the disgrace.

How can this be allowed to stand?
I would appeal and use the comments from the Director of Schools and Head of Admissions at Brighton Council when this system was introduced when they promised catchments "would catch" all the pupils in them. This was also reconfirmed by Sue Shanks (Green).

This is a fundamental failure to meet an important promise given by this council. It was one of the factors that persuaded the National Schools Adjudicator to let this awful system operate in the first place.

OBJECT.
The trouble is the issue of school places seems to be a bit mundane and not glamorous enough for the Greens. I really get the impression that it's a tiresome inconvenience that they wish they didn't have to deal with. This ignores the fact that school places are a highly emotive subject that parents care very deeply about. A couple of years ago I offered to discuss the figures I mention above (that show Stringer/Varndean would become very quickly oversubscribed with children from within that catchment) with Sue Shanks. It was no skin off my nose - it didn't effect me. I was trying to do her a favour by preventing the Greens and the Council from making themselves look silly. I didn't even get the courtesy of a reply to my email.
[quote][p][bold]M&P of the Dean[/bold] wrote: This was entirely predictiable. At some point the Council were going to give up/forget/not care about the catchments “catching” and now parents who applied for both Stringer and Varndean have been sent elsewhere. That is an absolute disgrace. There are 115 who missed out on all of their choices but it looks like many of those didnt choose catchment schools (at their peril). Some 22 in Stringer/Varndean and maybe more in other catchments didn’t get a place at schools “in catchment“ despite applying - that is the disgrace. How can this be allowed to stand? I would appeal and use the comments from the Director of Schools and Head of Admissions at Brighton Council when this system was introduced when they promised catchments "would catch" all the pupils in them. This was also reconfirmed by Sue Shanks (Green). This is a fundamental failure to meet an important promise given by this council. It was one of the factors that persuaded the National Schools Adjudicator to let this awful system operate in the first place. OBJECT.[/p][/quote]The trouble is the issue of school places seems to be a bit mundane and not glamorous enough for the Greens. I really get the impression that it's a tiresome inconvenience that they wish they didn't have to deal with. This ignores the fact that school places are a highly emotive subject that parents care very deeply about. A couple of years ago I offered to discuss the figures I mention above (that show Stringer/Varndean would become very quickly oversubscribed with children from within that catchment) with Sue Shanks. It was no skin off my nose - it didn't effect me. I was trying to do her a favour by preventing the Greens and the Council from making themselves look silly. I didn't even get the courtesy of a reply to my email. Quiterie
  • Score: 4

6:39pm Tue 4 Mar 14

M&P of the Dean says...

What is the point of having a catchment system if there are not enough places at the catchment school(s) for the children within it?

The Council needs to put another Class on at Stringer or Varndean to avoid this nightmare scenario. They then need to review the Catchments along with the demographic forecast to make sure this is less likely to happen.

Do we have a bunch of muppetts working for us down at the Council, this is pretty basic stuff, the sort of work you would have though the Council Education team would be doing as a matter of course.
What is the point of having a catchment system if there are not enough places at the catchment school(s) for the children within it? The Council needs to put another Class on at Stringer or Varndean to avoid this nightmare scenario. They then need to review the Catchments along with the demographic forecast to make sure this is less likely to happen. Do we have a bunch of muppetts working for us down at the Council, this is pretty basic stuff, the sort of work you would have though the Council Education team would be doing as a matter of course. M&P of the Dean
  • Score: 5

1:51pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Soleus says...

I also wrote to Sue Shanks (and Caroline Lucas) two years ago to explain that moving Prestonville into the Stringer-Varndean catchment would necessarily lead to this catchment not catching. Neither replied. The Council itself had supplied me with the pupil numbers needed to demonstrate the point, but the officials were apparently unable or unwilling to understand their own spreadsheet.

It is intolerable that the 22 should have been plucked at random to be directed out of catchment. That the Director of Education has considered it sufficient merely to point out the existence of a right of appeal is an insult to the families affected. He should ensure, without delay, that an extra class is put on at Stringer or Varndean. Failing this the 22 should get together to apply some serious pressure. The Argus can play an important role here by helping them to contact one another.
I also wrote to Sue Shanks (and Caroline Lucas) two years ago to explain that moving Prestonville into the Stringer-Varndean catchment would necessarily lead to this catchment not catching. Neither replied. The Council itself had supplied me with the pupil numbers needed to demonstrate the point, but the officials were apparently unable or unwilling to understand their own spreadsheet. It is intolerable that the 22 should have been plucked at random to be directed out of catchment. That the Director of Education has considered it sufficient merely to point out the existence of a right of appeal is an insult to the families affected. He should ensure, without delay, that an extra class is put on at Stringer or Varndean. Failing this the 22 should get together to apply some serious pressure. The Argus can play an important role here by helping them to contact one another. Soleus
  • Score: 4

11:06am Thu 6 Mar 14

EloisaWilcox says...

I am the parent of one of the 22 Children, we live a 20-25 minute walk from Stringer/Varndean and have been allocated a place at BACA, so while all my sons friends are celebrating getting their preferred schools my son and I have to wait for our appeal to be heard in May.

I would welcome any support or help we can get to get my son into one of our local schools.
I am the parent of one of the 22 Children, we live a 20-25 minute walk from Stringer/Varndean and have been allocated a place at BACA, so while all my sons friends are celebrating getting their preferred schools my son and I have to wait for our appeal to be heard in May. I would welcome any support or help we can get to get my son into one of our local schools. EloisaWilcox
  • Score: 2

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