A council has revealed draft plans to axe hundreds of unfilled primary school places, including the possible merger of three schools.

West Sussex County Council is considering a raft of reforms to “improve” education in Worthing and Durrington and remove 953 currently unfilled primary school places across the borough.

It also wants to increase primary places for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Across Worthing and Durrington, there are around 1,500 surplus primary places, meaning around 17 per cent of all available primary places are not currently being used-the equivalent to five average-sized primary schools being left empty in the Worthing borough, the council said.

As a result, some schools in the area are “significantly under capacity” and because government funding is largely per-pupil, schools that have large numbers of empty places can face “significant funding pressures”.

Under the proposals, the council said most schools would see either no change or have a reduction in the overall number of school places.

The council now wants to hear the views of residents on the following proposals:

  • Reducing the pupil admission numbers at the following schools: Durrington Infant School; Durrington Junior School; Field Place Infant School; Thomas A Becket Infant School; Thomas A Becket Junior School. There would be no change for pupils who currently attend these schools.
  • Merging three schools; Lyndhurst Infant School, Chesswood Junior School, Springfield Infant School, into a single “all-through” primary school on two of the existing school sites. key stage 1 (infant) provision would be delivered from the Sackville Road site currently occupied by Springfield Infant School, and key stages 1 and 2 (infant and junior) provision would be delivered on the Chesswood Road site currently occupied by Chesswood Junior School, as one school with one governing body.

This would give parents of children starting school the choice of two sites. It would mean the Lyndhurst Infant school site is no longer required and children currently there would move to one of the two newly developed sites.

  • Creating a new 21-place primary special support centre for children with social communication needs, on the Chesswood Road site. This would incorporate the nine places currently at Lyndhurst.
  • Creating a new eight-place special support centre for children with special educational needs and disabilities, on either the Downsbrook Primary Academy site or the Whytemead Primary School site.

Nigel Jupp, cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “These proposals are to help schools come closer to achieving full classes to reduce their financial pressures and have the resources to give children the best start in life.

“Our proposals also explore opportunities to increase places for children with special educational needs and disabilities in the area, to help meet a growing demand.

“We look forward to hearing from parents, carers, pupils, and those involved in education, who live in the Worthing and Durrington area and across the county.”

People can have their say on the proposals at your voice.westsussex.gov.uk/worthing-primary-provision-review until midnight on January 20.