LEIGH’s three main schools, West Leigh, Leigh North Street and Chalkwell are now so popular and this, coupled with a boost recent boost in the birth rate, means that parents in the existing catchment areas could find it impossible to get their children into these schools in future.
Southend Council are, therefore, launching a consultation on a proposal to solve the situation by reducing the size of the catchment areas for these schools while increasing the catchment areas for neighbouring schools Darlinghurst and Eastwood Primary while moving the borders of Blenheim and Fairways - so that they can take the pressure of the other schools.
Southend Council’s Cabinet were told last week: “From 2019 onwards, forecast data for Southend, taken from births and trends in admission, predict that there are specific risk areas where meeting catchment preferences are likely to worsen over the coming years, Leigh causing the greatest immediate concern.
“The overall births for the cluster are usually in the region of 550 to 600 with 660 places currently available. However births and forecasting data from 2019 onwards have now overtaken catchment places in West Leigh, Leigh North Street and Chalkwell Hall. The majority of schools within the Leigh area are community schools and as such the local authority is responsible for consulting on any proposed changes for these schools including catchment areas.
“The reasoning behind a catchment consultation for this area is to increase the future likelihood of a parent having a reasonable expectation for admission to their catchment school in the south Leigh area, which from 2019 will be slim for those living furthest from the school.
“Schools affected by the proposed changes are both community and own admission authority and therefore would require consent of all parties to implement any change.”
The proposal is to begin the consultation in July before the end of the school summer term. This allows schools to distribute communications to all existing families attending the schools as well as distributing information via pre-schools, nurseries and children centres, allowing for a wide spread of information sharing and engagement with as little disruption to schools as possible.
The consultation would run throughout the summer holiday, ending on September 22.
Results of the consultation will be reported to cabinet for final decision on any proposed change prior to the official consultation period in the autumn term. Any changes would be introduced for the 2019-20 school year.
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