The pressing problem of school place shortages in Adur was discussed at a meeting organised by parent campaigners, who are determined to put the issue ‘firmly on the map’.
More than 100 people, including parents, councillors and headteachers, attended the event held by the Future of Adur Schools Team (FAST) at the Shoreham Centre on Monday.
The meeting followed concern among parents after some Shoreham pupils were not allocated places at a secondary school in their town – but at one 12 miles away in Storrington.
Group member Alastair Reid said their presentation aimed to outline the scale of the problem.
“I don’t think anyone was aware of how big an issue this was going to be,” he said.
Demand for school places would only increase with the proposed 3,609 new homes included in the Adur Local Plan, he said.
Data gathered by FAST from county council figures showed that primary schools in Lancing and Shoreham had already been at full capacity most years during the past six years, he said, adding: “This is not a new problem.”
But while three new primary schools are under discussion, FAST fear this still may not be enough to meet demand.
Alastair said: “The big issue no one is talking about is that we drastically need new secondary school capacity.”
FAST calculates there may be a shortfall of 1,000 secondary school places by 2030, Alastair said.
The group hopes to recruit FAST representatives in more schools to work together and even approach sponsors to discuss the possibility of a new secondary school.
FAST also spoke about their own success in securing educational funding from the Ropetackle North development for Swiss Gardens Primary school as an example other parent groups could follow.
Alastair said after the meeting: “The feedback has been really positive.”
Claire Green said: “Until the recent secondary school issues I had been blissfully unaware of the scale of the challenge ahead.”
She thanked FAST for ‘putting a spotlight on it’.
Louisa Holden, parent to a Shoreham Pre School pupil, said the presentation was ‘clear, factual, fair’ and added: “It was fantastic to see head teachers attending.”
Parent Richard James said: “A brilliant presentation of the issues, but I’m still feeling desperately concerned about the national problem and ideological stubbornness that restricts any serious change.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesperson told the Herald: “We recognise there is a concern locally regarding future capacity at the local schools.
“We also understand that parents are not always able to secure their first preference.
“In 2017/18 there are sufficient places for children at schools across the local area.
“We make every effort to accurately predict the future demand on school places and are currently working with headteachers to regularly review the current and future provision.”
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