‘No change’ recommended for school catchment areas south of London Road
Tuesday 23 January 2018
A detailed report on school admission arrangements for community schools from September 2019 onwards will be considered by the council’s cabinet next week (Monday 29 January).
The report highlights how a number of factors, including feedback from the recent consultation, latest birth data and early 2018 admissions data show there is no longer a compelling argument for changing catchment areas south of the London Road (West Leigh/Leigh North Street/Chalkwell Hall infant and junior).
Cabinet councillors will also be asked to agree oversubscription criteria for community schools, and a small change to the catchment area of Fairways Primary School.
Along with proposed changes to admissions criteria, the report also includes feedback from the recent public consultation that took place in November and December 2017, a process that the council is required by law to carry out every seven years.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “I absolutely recognise the emotive nature of this issue, and that is why I have been clear from the outset that we must consult openly and properly and that we must listen to all of the different views put to us. That is why we undertook a listening and engagement exercise prior to the full consultation.
“School admissions is highly regulated by law, and we are required to consult on admission arrangements every seven years if not sooner, this being the sixth year, and we must consult and publish arrangements at a specified time of year.
“We now have additional data to what we had at the outset of this process suggesting the risk of oversubscription for certain schools is significantly reduced. This new indicative data, along with overwhelming opposition to change, means that we no longer have a compelling case for changing catchment areas south of the London Road. Whilst some areas will always remain susceptible to oversubscription, the data no longer shows significant enough issues to make such fundamental changes that will affect so many.
“I have said all along that we cannot make a decision that will please everyone, and although I do absolutely feel for those to the west of West Leigh catchment who supported proposed change, we can only base our view on the evidence in front of us at that given time, the views expressed to us from the consultation, and with respect to the Admissions Code. It is with this is mind and the fact that we can no longer provide a compelling enough case for change that we are making these recommendations to Cabinet.”