Sudden announcement throws pupils, parents and staff into uncertainty, say Greens
Labour must ‘urgently halt’ plans to close two local primary schools, Greens argue, after reports reveal the council intends to close St Bartholomew’s School in the city centre and St Peter’s school in Portslade.
Both schools serve some of the most deprived communities in the city and support a significant number of pupils with additional needs.
With the closure proposed to take effect in August 2024, Greens say there is now little time left for meaningful consultation with parents and staff, with concerns that pupils in year five and six and those with SEN needs will be left unable to find suitable alternative provision.
Greens have criticised the plans to close the schools as both ill-considered and poorly executed, and are calling for a re-think as well as a pause of the process.
Green Councillor Sue Shanks, opposition spokesperson for children, families and skills committee, and ward councillor for West Hill and North Laine where St Bartholomew’s school is based, commented:
“Labour must urgently halt plans to close these two schools in our city and commit to proper engagement with school heads, parents, staff and unions. We know the broken national funding model and low pupil intake is an issue city-wide. But to give less than a full school year to consider the plans throws staff, pupils and parents into a state of uncertainty over the future of their jobs and education.
“It is telling that these announcements come after Labour ran on a local election promise to ‘keep schools open,’ and just months after they scrapped the cross-party, schools organisation working group, that saw all three political groups work together to protect the viability of local schools. In the past every stone was overturned by all groups to keep schools open.
“Now Labour see fit to go it alone and are making poor decisions without scrutiny. We urge them to pause the plans, extend the timeframe for consultation, and engage all parties involved to explore alternative options and views. We would also encourage parents to respond to the consultation when it opens and in the meantime, to contact their local councillors should they share concerns about this decision.”
 The council report on proposals for school organisation will be tabled at a meeting of the Children, Families and Skills committee on 6th November:
“In response to the fall in pupil numbers the Council is proposing the closure of 2 schools and the reduction in Published Admission Number of 9 schools. A total reduction of 300 places. When closure of a school is proposed the Council must first carry out a consultation. The Committee is asked to approve a consultation to consider closure of these two schools, which will run alongside a consultation on other proposed changes in admission arrangements across the city.”
 Brighton and Hove Labour 2023 Election manifesto:
“A Labour council will use what money is available to keep schools open. We will work with teachers and governors to explore the creation of school federations who can work together. Collective procurement can save money and sharing expertise across school ‘clusters’ makes the most of specialist staff expertise.
Keeping schools open“*
“We will look at changing catchment areas to protect schools facing closure, particularly in outlying areas. We will support communities if they resist forced academisations and wish their local schools to remain local authority maintained.”