SCHOOL places in Brighton and Hove could be dramatically reduced within two years due to financial risks.

By September 2022, it is predicted there will be 19 per cent surplus school places in the city, which could lead to schools facing "serious" financial problems. 

Brighton and Hove City Council plans to reduce Published Admission Numbers (PAN) - the number pupils in each year group that can be admitted without causing problems for the school - at nine community schools in the city, including Hove Park School and Sixth Form.

Some of the schools could see their PANs reduced to half their current capacity.

Chairwoman of the council’s Children, Young People & Skills committee, Councillor Hannah Clare, has released a video explaining the council's plans.

She said: "The government says you need about five to ten per cent surplus or extra places across schools. We've got about 19 per cent in our city, so it's far too high.

"It puts the school at financial risk if they have too many places available because of the way the funding works.

"Say a school has a PAN of 60 but they only get 34 children apply - that means the school has to open two classes rather than one, but it only gets the funding for those 30 odd pupils.

"We want to make sure we prevent this from happening as far as possible, and therefore protect the financial sustainability of our schools."

The schools affected are:

  • Balfour Primary School from 120 to 90 pupils
  • Benfield Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
  • Brunswick Primary School from 120 to 90 pupils
  • Downs Infant School from 120 to 90 pupils
  • Goldstone Primary School from 90 to 60 pupils
  • Moulsecoomb Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
  • Stanford Infant School from 90 to 60 pupils
  • West Blatchington Primary School from 60 to 30 pupils
  • Hove Park School and Sixth Form from 300 to 180 pupils.

The council has launched a consultation on its plans, which runs until November 27, and parents are encouraged to have their say.

Decisions about school numbers for September 2022 need to be agreed by the end of February 2021.

Councillor Clare added: “Our priority is to ensure families have a wide choice of schools – and ensuring that through managing the large number of spare places we have, we keep all schools in the city open. 

“We want to be able to offer families school places within a reasonable distance of their home.  

“Sadly, having too many school places puts our schools at financial risk. This is because they may end up supporting multiple classes that aren’t full – without the funding to provide enough support to those pupils. This means we will need to make some difficult decisions. 

“This consultation is an important chance for our residents to give their views on how we achieve these aims, along with providing detail around routes to school and any other issues they may wish to raise.

“But given government rules that determine school funding I think most people would agree that doing nothing is simply not an option.”

To view the consulation and fill out the online survey, visit the council website.