SCHOOLS and councillors have welcomed news that councillors have prepared to drop plans to reduce admissions numbers in primary schools.
Brighton and Hove City Council announced yesterday that members of the children, young people and skills committee would be asked to keep the published admission number for seven schools across the city unchanged and shelve proposals to reduce pupil numbers from September next year.
Brighton and Hove Conservative leader and Woodingdean councillor Steve Bell thanked those who signed petitions and head teachers who helped fight the proposals.
He said: "There was a lot of work in the community: meetings, school visits, petitions and a protest - and everyone played their part.
"The petitions in particular made a great difference, showing the strength of feeling in Woodingdean against these changes. We fought hard to make sure they were allowed to be presented in full so that the council heard the message from Woodingdean loud and clear.
"The council's policy was a bad one that would have only encouraged more families to leave the city and we are now pleased it has now come to an end.
"The council needs to return to its 'family of schools' approach and in future must ensure that it protects areas where demand for school places are high."
Headteachers Euan Hanington from Rudyard Kipling Primary School and Gemma Chumnansin from Woodingdean Primary School said in a joint statement that they were "pleased" that the council has "seen the potential for growth in both of our schools as more families choose to relocate to Woodingdean".
They said: "To have two excellent primary schools in Woodingdean, both two form entry, will continue to make Woodingdean an enticing area for families to re-locate to."
Patcham councillor and governor at Carden Primary School Alistair McNair said that the council's announcement was a "fantastic result for the children, teachers, parents, governors and the community of Hollingbury and Patcham".
He said: "Parent, pupils and teachers ran a phenomenal and heartfelt campaign which highlighted the strength of feeling of a whole community."
The Conservative schools spokesperson Vanessa Brown said that the council should now look at its 'family of schools' policy, which she claims has broken down.
Cllr Brown said: "We need to work with all the schools in an open and transparent way, including working closely with the faith schools and our academies and free schools.
"Sadly the whole 'family of schools' idea is not working as it was intended. We must all co-operate and work together to find a more sustainable solution to this problem for the future."
The council's announcement came after extensive public consultation during November and December, and detailed discussions between the councils and the schools involved.
Councillor Sarah Nield, who co-chairs the cross-party School Organisation Working Group, said: "We are committed to keeping all our schools open if we possibly can, but the council has no budget for keeping schools open where number forecasts suggest schools may encounter serious financial difficulties.
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