Sandwell Council will publish a legal notice in September 2023, called a ‘Statutory Proposal’, to formally state it intends to reduce the published admission numbers (PAN) to 60, with effect from September this year.
The notice will explain how and when it would do this and will also give people an opportunity to make formal representations about the proposals. The schools adjudicator will be requested to make a final decision on proposals to reduce school place numbers, before the council implements any proposal.
Sandwell Council carried out a five-week consultation with parents and carers, staff, and the local community on a proposed reduction in the PAN for Cape Primary School and Uplands Manor Primary School.
The consultation, which ran from December 5, 2022, to January 20, 2023, had no responses.
PAN is the number of pupils that a school can admit per year group. Uplands Manor Primary School increased PAN in reception from 90 to 120 in 2011. Cape Primary School increased its PAN in reception from 60 to 90 in 2009.
While a number of schools in Smethwick have started to see a slight surplus in numbers, Cape Primary School has seen a more “immediate and sharper fall off in new applications for reception”, the report notes.
The numbers on roll for Cape Primary School for the past five years, taken from published census data, show 597 pupils from reception to year six enrolled in 2018. In 2022, the number was 523.
A large portion of funding received by schools – mainly the dedicated schools grant, Schools Block – effectively pays for per pupil funding in schools across the country. Too many vacancies, the report finds, means schools will not receive the maximum possible revenue, and will impact on the number of teachers and teaching assistants that can be employed or retained at the schools.
The schools are now at a point where they “cannot sustain the low numbers of children that are arriving”, according to the report. In November 2022 Cape Primary School filled 56 of the 90 places available in Reception. Uplands Manor Primary School had filled 75 of the 120.
Councillor Jackie Taylor, who asked a question on behalf of Councillor Nicky Hincliff, said: “Are there any plans to use the places and premises in the borough that are seeking to reduce their PANs to help with the growing number of places needed for children with EHCP? Could we support the schools with additional resources to use spaces and stuff to set up resource bases for children with ASD?”
Councillor Simon Hackett, the cabinet member for children and education, said: : “When a school seeks to reduce its numbers we do go into discussions around school places and places potentially available for children with special educational needs […] Uplands Manor Primary School, which is mentioned in this report has expanded its focus provision for special needs children very recently.
“So we are there to support schools and will continue to work with schools to provide additional resources where they need them.”