The Prime Minister recently announced plans for students carrying on maths studies for longer. Clearly nowhere is that needed more than at the West Sussex Education Department where officials have managed to make a complete pig’s ear of working out how many secondary school places are needed across the county. And it appears that students from Shoreham and Horsham in particular have been left out in the cold.
Not for the first time has calculation of future pupil number demand been severely miscalculated by West Sussex. I have been deluged with emails from concerned parents particularly from Swiss Gardens School whose children have not been allocated any of their first three choices of secondary school and many have been redirected to St Andrew’s School in Worthing instead. Unlike certain local Labour councillors who have been accused of making derogatory remarks about St Andrew’s which helps no one, I have nothing against that school also in my constituency and making good progress under new management after recent challenges. But parents had every expectation of their children getting into Sir Robert Woodard Academy having been given a series of taster and preparation classes there.
It is frankly risible for Education officials to claim that every child in West Sussex has secured a place at secondary school and that 86.4% were allocated their first choice. That is no comfort to the 370 children across the County who have been allocated a school they never chose and, in some cases, have never heard of, and will involve long journeys.
County Councillors across Adur are equally outraged having been kept in the dark about this looming problem and we are working with schools and parents to put pressure on the Education Department to see what can be done to salvage the situation and will be part of a public meeting due to take place next week. We will certainly not be taking this one lying down and we need to have a wider conversation about likely demand for school places across Adur especially in light of the growing population moving into the new developments.
I will be back at the Shoreham Framer’s Market from 10am as usual this Saturday together with local councillors for our regular street surgery.