'Hands off Hertford' campaigners tell councillors

Parents and children protested outside the town hall before the Full Council meeting
Parents and children protested outside the town hall before the Full Council meeting

Residents are rallying round an 'under-threat' Brighton school, with a 1,600-strong petition presented to councillors on Thursday evening (November 2).

A proposal from Brighton and Hove City Council is set to reduce Hertford Infants School in Hollingdean to a single-form intake of 30 pupils – down from the current 60 children – from 2019.

'Hands off Hertford': Children protesting against their school's intake being reduced

'Hands off Hertford': Children protesting against their school's intake being reduced

It is considering the same move at four other city schools: Moulsecoomb Primary School, Coombe Road Primary School, West Hove Infant School and Benfield Primary School.

Parents and children from Hertford Infant School protested outside the Full Council meeting at Brighton Town Hall last night, with campaigners handing over the petition against the plans.

Campaigners said they fear that with no single-form infant schools in Brighton and Hove, that any change would mean Hertford is no longer viable.

Jo Wilding of action group Support Hertford Schools, who presented the petition to the council which is currently consulting on the proposals, said: "No rational public authority could make a decision which is so clearly in conflict with its published policy priorities.

"Hertford Infants is the only school in this consultation where reducing the intake will force children out of their first preference school. This will mean budget losses in an already deprived area.

"The Education Committee emphasises that all schools should remain viable and that no school accommodation lost, but it is clear that a single-form infant school would not be financially viable under the new school funding formula. There are two four-form entry schools in the local area, and neither have been asked to consider reducing pupil numbers."

With consultation on the proposals running until November 19, Support Hertford Schools also emphasised the achievements of the junior school, which in 2016 had the highest percentage of children in Brighton achieving the higher level in SATS examinations. Campaigners said although 42 per cent of pupils at Hertford Junior are disadvantaged, last year they achieved 12 percentage points better than those in the city as a whole.

Hertford parents also expressed support for parents and teachers at Benfield Primary School, who are opposing a similar proposal.

Ms Wilding said: "The committee emphasises its proposals don't imply any criticism of the quality of each school.

"But one of its published policy priorities is to reduce the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils. You don't halve the size of your highest achieving school."

To take part in the council's consultation, visit: bit.ly/2lGudZ0