Brighton and Hove News »School places petition fails to move counselors over swollen classrooms
Activists fighting for high school places near their homes have made sure counselors hear messages from school children who will have to walk for miles without their friends.
A parent, Anna Cole, spoke on behalf of the “Lost 62” – families whose children did not have a place in schools in their catchment area Dorothy Stringer and Varndean – at a council meeting today. hui (Thursday, March 25).
More than 2,400 people have signed a petition presented to Brighton and Hove City Council calling for a review of the number of places available at the two schools.
This year, Dorothy Stringer did not take a bulge class of 30 additional students like she has for the past three years.
Ms Cole said there were seven high schools closer to her home than the one assigned to her son.
Ms Cole added that after looking at the school numbers, parents discovered that in March 2021, Dorothy Stringer had 1,668 students while she had room for 1,710.
Varndean also needed to be able to accommodate more students – 1,500 – once construction was completed.
She said parents did not understand why the board’s school task force decided not to offer more places at both schools.
Ms Cole read the statements of children aged 10 and 11, telling counselors they need to understand how these children felt about not going to a local school.
Florence, 11, said: “I am sad and I cry a lot at the moment. I worry at night and can’t sleep. I want to go to the same school as all of my friends.
“It’s right up the road. I’m afraid to go to a school where I don’t know anyone. I’m afraid I will have to go there on my own. I don’t understand, why me?
George, 11, said: “I’m not good at socializing. I don’t make friends easily, so the two best friends I have are very important to me.
“I think differently from most kids and get a lot of support from them. They make me feel confident and less anxious.
Enya, 11, said: “I feel isolated. Why am I treated differently from my friends who live practically next to me?
“I’m extremely anxious and don’t feel like I can spend almost two hours on two different round-trip buses. Please help me go to a local school.
Green Councilor Hannah Clare, who chairs the Children, Youth and Skills Committee, said she understands it is a painful episode for families.
She said the board had spoken with schools to find a long-term solution – but it was not possible to increase the number.
Councilor Clare said: “Taking everything into account, we believe that making schools even bigger will not be good for all of our schools but especially for our children, especially in a year where overcrowding issues are real. health implications. students and staff.
“However, I do appreciate that for the young people and families involved, understanding why the decision was made offers some comfort, which is why I am committed to supporting every child who has been affected by the decision.”
Conservative councilor Vanessa Brown said she was very sorry the children couldn’t find a place but there was no place for them as the council had already agreed jointly with the schools.
She said: “Particularly in this time of a pandemic, it would be wrong to try to cram more children into two already overcrowded schools.
“There is already too little space in common areas, hallways, toilets, etc., which makes any attempt at social distancing very difficult. “
Councilor Brown said the increase in numbers at both schools would be detrimental to other schools in the city, especially Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA), in Falmer, and Longhill High School, in Rottingdean.
She said all secondary schools in Brighton and Hove had a ‘good’ rating from the official education supervisory body Ofsted.
Union adviser John Allcock said that as a parent himself he understood how disappointed families felt.
He said: “I am confident that the children will receive a high quality education in the school to which they have been assigned, although I fully understand that it will not feel like that currently.
“It is important that the board takes responsibility for allocating schools in the future. Hope we will have a better balance in the future.
Ms Cole used a “chat” feature to tell a virtual full board meeting that any additional support would not help children like her son. He faced a 10 mile “grown-up” commute every day to and from school without any of his friends.
Independent adviser Tony Janio criticized the council for doing nothing to help children without schools near their homes. He said, “It’s a shame. I think the advisers need to meet. Sort it out!
“There’s a bulge going through. Primary school enrollment is declining. It is a temporary measure. Go ahead, get the money and put the kids in a school.
“It won’t take a lot of imagination from this miserable administration.”
Councilor Clare says that was not possible.
Council agreed to take note of the petition.