A motion has been presented to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Families, and Schools Committee, urging a reassessment of the decision to shut down St Bartholomew’s Church of England Primary School and transfer Bright Start nursery. The proposal recommends exploring the potential of co-locating both institutions on a shared site, sparking discussions on a collaborative solution for the community.
The motion calls for a temporary pause in the implementation of plans to close St Bartholomew’s School and relocate Bright Start nursery from the Old Slipper Baths in Barracks Yard to the Tarner Centre. Instead, the motion proposes the development of a comprehensive report to be presented at the next committee meeting on Thursday, 29th February. This report would assess the feasibility of relocating Bright Start to the St Bartholomew’s site in Ann Street.
Key considerations include maintaining Bright Start’s existing capacity for children under two years old and encouraging cooperation between council officials, the school, and Bright Start to explore viable options. Among the suggestions is the potential reduction of St Bartholomew’s published admission number (PAN) to enhance its long-term financial stability.
Parents are expressing concerns that the proposed relocation of Bright Start could lead to reduced operating hours, the elimination of provision for children under two, and a substantial 70% reduction in available spaces. The upcoming meeting on Monday, 22nd January, will see councillors deciding whether to endorse the closure of St Bartholomew’s School, which currently ranks as the second smallest in terms of pupil numbers in Brighton and Hove. The school is grappling with a deficit budget, surpassing £200,000.
The motion advocates for exploring the utilization of the unallocated £4.3 million in developer contributions earmarked for education, commonly known as “section 106” money, to facilitate the proposed move. A fellow Green Councillor previously inquired about the potential uses of this fund during a council meeting, receiving a response affirming its applicability to education infrastructure and the long-term delivery of education tailored to the diverse needs of the city’s children.
In addition to financial considerations, the committee is urged to recognize the broader impact of the closures on a significant number of pupils from ethnic minorities and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The motion emphasizes the need for the council to explore every possible alternative before finalizing the decision. It proposes the relocation of the nursery to the vacant space at the St Bartholomew’s site, asserting that it could offer a cost-effective alternative that benefits city centre families while safeguarding crucial provision for children under two.
Commenting on the situation, the motion expressed concerns about the lack of alignment between the local council’s plans and the national party’s campaign promises. While the national party advocates for expanded nursery provision, including integrated nursery places in primary schools, it appears that this message has not resonated with the local council.
The upcoming meeting of the Children, Families, and Schools Committee, scheduled for 4 pm on Monday, 22nd January at Hove Town Hall, is expected to be webcast on the council’s website. As the debate unfolds, the community awaits an informed decision that prioritizes the well-being and educational needs of its children.