In 2020, Brighton & Hove Council wished to reduce the number of places at Downs Infant School by a quarter.
Reducing the school intake from 120 to 90 would have had a massive impact on the budget of the school and its ability to continue to provide outstanding teaching and would have also reduced parental choice in the city by removing places at one of the most popular schools in the area.
The governing body’s objection to the Schools Adjudicator was upheld on.
Although less places are required across the city Downs Infants continues to be a very popular school, filling all of its places.
The council did not consider this fact and sought to reduce the number of places available at the school.
There was no local authority provision for the financial costs of reducing the size of the school. Any costs, such as redundancies, would have fallen within the school’s existing budget.
Budgets in education are already stretched. A reduction would have had a large impact on the school.
The school currently fills approximately 30–40 places each year with siblings of existing pupils. A reduction of overall places significantly reduces school choices for new parents. Many more children would not have had the benefit of a Downs Infant’s education.
The council did not consulting with local, church-run schools. Or with some other schools who are not currently filling their places.
As a larger infant school, Downs Infants has the capacity in the staff and management team to provide excellent care for children with special educational needs.
The school is recognised as an environment where all pupils can receive education and support whatever their needs. Reducing the overall number of children at the school would have put that care at risk.
The council did not consult with our linked junior school but planned to consult after the reduction had worked through the school.
To present this as a done deal to Downs Juniors was deceptive and did not respect the issues that a reduction in numbers would have on that school.
What did we do?
The consultation ended on 27th November and the governing body objected successfully in early 2021.