Schools 4 communities: Brighton & Hove Schools Action Group

This blog site is opposing the recommendations of the Secondary Admissions Review and campaigning for a fairer way of allocating places to pupils, particularly those from the proposed Falmer catchment.

Secondary school admissions in Brighton & Hove

Wednesday 28th February
This issue has become a national news story with the CFS's decision to adopt the fixed catchment/lottery system for secondary school admissions featuring as a major storyline on Radio 4's Today programme. Radio 2 and Radio 5 have also featured the story and there has been interest from TV news and national newspapers. See:

Schools to give places by lottery (BBC News, 28 Feb)
Bangladesh cargo School plans pushed through (The Argus, 28 Feb)
School places allocated by lottery (Guardian Unlimited, 28 Feb)
School lottery introduced as pupils miss out (, 28 Feb)
School places decided by lottery (C4 News, 28 Feb)
Parents protest on school places (BBC News, 27 Feb)

Tuesday 27th February
Pat Hawkes, chair of the Children's, Families and Schools Committee, again used her casting vote to push through the proposals.

Monday 19th February
The Scrutiny Committee voted 7-6 to send the Secondary Admissions Proposals back to the Children's, Families and Schools Committee to reconsider the original decision. The emergency meeting must take place within 10 working days.

A call for the reinstatement of Councillor Juliet McCaffery, sacked so outrageously by Council Leader Simon Burgess, will be made by everybody in our city who values democracy.

Monday 12th February
Most of you will have by now heard about the disgusting manipulation of the democratic process by the Labour Group. Having lost the arguments both morally and on the facts, with 6 out of 10 councillors lining up to throw out the proposals, Labour sacked their own vice-chair from the CFS committee one hour before the vote, in a desperate but successful attempt to manipulate the vote.

This is the most open and visual abuse of power that we can remember in a long time in this city. Are there no depths to which this administration will sink? It seems not. What is more, it is crystal clear that this sacking and abuse of democracy was about saving Labour marginal seats in Hanover/Elm Grove and Queens Park. This had nothing to do with what is best for the children of this city.

Vote Result

  Ken Norman (C) against
  Ted Kemble (C) against
  Vanessa Brown (C) against
  Lynda Hyde (C) against
  Jayne Bennett (Ind) against
  Pat Hawkes (L) for
  Gill Mitchell (L) for (replaced the removed Juliet McCaffery)
  Les Hamilton (L) for (he substituted for Sue John)
  Jack Hazelgrove (L) for
  Richard Mallender (G) for


Pat Hawkes casting vote as chair saw the worst option, the single Falmer catchment adopted, but not pulled south so it has no comprehensive mix, the Stinger/Varndean catchment is massively oversubscribed and ignored, Prestonville and Westdene sent to Hangleton etc etc

So where are we? This is the prospect:

  1. Pat Hawkes said Falmer is a good and an improving school and will therefore thrive. We say yes it is an improving school but only because it has had a more comprehensive mix of late, including children from Hanover and Queens Park. Well not any more.
  2. Those with least choice of all in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean having zero chance of accessing better schools (Jack Hazelgrove was an absolute disgrace)
  3. Certain and massive oversubscription in the Stringer/Varndean catchment, by at least 95 children kids in 2008. (Does anyone believe they will put spend money putting 3 extra classes on at Varndean when there are 90 empty desks at Patcham ????)
  4. A lottery deciding where over 60% of our children are educated.
  5. A huge increase in cross-city travelling as children from as far away as Queens Park will now access Stringer/Varndean and children living as central as West Street end up at Hove Park Lower School in Hangelton
  6. Some children who can now walk to school such as those in Prestonville and Westdene will have to be bussed 4 miles to Hangleton
  7. Uncertainty for all. Equality of Uncertainty has been achieved.
  8. Children across the city not being able to get places at schools they live next door to.

Rather than concentrate on improving standards at unpopular schools and increasing the provision in this neglected city, this council has sought to 'shuffle the deck chairs on the titanic' and in the most outrageous and undemocratic manner.

None of the above concerns have played any part in this debate. This came down to simple party politics with Labour and Green fighting over marginal seats in Hanover and Queens Park.

We would also note that Richard Mallender (Green) voted for these proposals, resigning many Preston Park children to long journey times that will be forced upon them even though ALL can currently walk to school.

If this is allowed to stand, our children will not forgive us and god only knows what this ruling administration will think they can get away with next. We intend to fight this decision with everything we have. Keep abreast of developments though our extensive contact list. For more details email

See Impact on Your Area (complete list to follow shortly):

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