Parents threaten legal action over school catchment changes

The proposed changes to secondary school catchment areas from 2019 to 2021
The proposed changes to secondary school catchment areas from 2019 to 2021

A legal challenge could be launched against the council over controversial changes to school catchment areas.

The children’s committee on Monday (November 13) was told that parents in north Elm Grove and West Hove could sue over the proposals.

And parents in both areas have been collecting signatures in the area for a petition to fight the plans.

At Monday's meeting of the children’s committee, father-of-two Dave Boyle, 43, told councillors they had let the city down over the catchment area plans, and parents would consider legal action.

The move is to reduce pressure on oversubscribed schools Dorothy Stringer and Varndean, by narrowing the catchment, and moving some children to Longhill or Blatchington Mill/Hove Park. The latter catchment would then be oversubscribed, so children in the west of that area would be moved to the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy.

The temporary changes would be in place for two years from 2019 to 2021, with new boundaries drawn up for 2021 onwards when the new secondary free school is set to open at the Brighton General Hospital site.

Speaking on behalf of parents in Elm Grove and West Hove, Mr Boyle said: “Our concerns are driven by the fact that our children will lose choice and be given a school located far away from the community in which they live and splitting their primary schools and friendship groups in two.”

He accused the council of ‘bad planning’ and said the working group which drew up the proposals ‘have let down the committee and the city’.

He said his own children would have to travel four miles from Elm Grove to Longhill School under the new plans.

Mr Boyle said if the changes go ahead: “It will guarantee a legal challenge from parents in the areas affected as we sincerely doubt that they meet the test in the school’s admission code that the catchments be fair, clear and objective. This is not fair they are kids not commuters.”

He added: “It’s obviously a mess, it’s so dysfunctional – at the end of it, we just want our kids to go to school.”

To take part in the consultation, which closes on Sunday (November 19), visit: bit.ly/2hBQ9TN