17 June 2013…..It’s all schools, schools, schools at the moment! A great rush of schools issues, plans and activities which will have far-reaching and extensive impacts and if not watched and steered well, could create serious problems or anchor an area well. A period of consultation is active as this is written and a public meeting has been held at Connaught School on Monday, 17th June, 2013 to display the planning application drawings for the Hove Police Station conversion and to brief parents and interested parties attending and take questions.
It became known that City College would be giving up its use and ownership of Connaught School, built in the 19th century as an infant school and never out of use for education; tick.
Grade 2 Listing of Connaught School was achieved to prevent demolition as far as possible (work done by Ninka Willcock for the Brighton Society); tick.
The Conservative Administration needed persuading it had to buy Connaught from City College after dropping it from their shortlist (saveHOVE deployed a petition, got Argus publicity with Action4Kids invited, supporting and promoting it, and, very crucially, achieved support from the new Conservative MP when he was asked to sign the petition. He very publicly announced he would sign it – in front of appalled Conservative Administration councillor colleagues at a public meeting, he provided at Connaught, to discuss the issue); tick.
BHCC’s Conservative Administration then bought Connaught from City College. It had been sold to them by Hove Borough Council in the 1980’s. Back in council ownership, extensive works were then carried out to bring Connaught back to use as a 21st century infant-level satellite school attached to West Hove School; tick.
The planned-for intake has had to be expanded but the school looks brilliant inside, and it all works well; tick.
The problem now is where they graduate to…as juniors…in 2014.
New Junior Provision to come
BHCC did a deal with Sussex police. The police are now ensconced in a shared use of Hove Town Hall and BHCC has bought the police station from them, for £2.25million. Plans have been drawn up to convert it to four-form entry junior school use. BHCC originally intended a three-form entry use and earmarked £2.5m for the conversion. Expansion at Connaught meant making the conversion into a four-form entry, thereby increasing the budget to £3.5m to achieve it. The £5.75 million total will come out of the council’s basic needs allocation. West Hove School and Governors have agreed in principle to be the parent school to what will be a satellite, linked for admission purposes – as Connaught is too.
The briefing at the 17th June meeting was provided by Michael Nix, Head of Education Planning and Contracts and Gillian Churchill (responsible for the lovely upgrade and reconfigurations inside Connaught School after it was acquired). Please note that Gill Sweetenham has retired and he left BHCC employment 8 weeks before this meeting. Michael Nix is his replacement. Also present to brief and take questions were the Children and Schools Chair, Cllr Sue Shanks, along with a senior delegation from West Hove School. No ward councillors attended (for either Central or Goldsmid). The fact that nobody has so far objected to any of this and nobody is expected to (by anyone saveHOVE is aware of) will explain the fact only about 15 people attended.
So the story/scheduled timetable is this:
1. West Hove School will be doubled in size by taking the four-form converted police station into the fold.
2. The plans on display at the meeting have been submitted to the Planning Dept for registration. Four floors, 4 classes per floor, one form for each floor. Within a week, perhaps the end of this week, the plans will be out for public consultation for a few weeks with determination expected sometime in July.
3. The present consultation concerning the use of the station under West Hove School ends on 10th July and is availabe online on the BHCC website under Consultations.
4. The overall plan will come to the Children and Schools Committee meeting in July, a four-week statutory consultation period will be mounted from the 1st of September with final sign-off at Committee in Ocober 2013 to allow sufficient tme fo the works to be done in time for the 2014 intake. Whilst all works are expected to be complete, only the ground floor will be fitted out to take the first year of infants moving up to junior school in 2014. And each subsequent new year will see another floor of 4 classes brought into use.
There was some discussion on various issues but Mr. Nix touched on admissions policy to be applied. After Looked-After children and Looked-After children who have been adopted, existing Connaught pupils have priority if choosing the new police station conversion as their preferred option, then exceptional medical need, followed by sibling attendance, etc.
And four years from then, they will need a secondary school to move on to (!) Where will THAT be?