Primary school places row brews in Newhaven

Parents are up in arms after they were unable to get their children into their first choice school, but instead offered a place at a school in special measures.

More than 30 pupils were not offered a place at Harbour Primary School, which is rated as good by education watchdog Ofsted.

Instead many of them were offered a place at Meeching Valley Primary School, which is in special measures.

Last year Harbour Primary School was able to take an extra class in reception, but as a result it said it did not have room for another class this year.

Instead Meeching Valley Primary School has been told to take an extra class to accommodate the pupils for September 2013.

But to make space for the extra pupils, Happy Valley Pre School, which has been housed at Meeching Valley School since 2006, has been told it must find a new home.

Newhaven Town Council is looking at housing the pre school at the Lewes Road Recreation Ground Hut as a temporary solution.

Cllr Carla Butler (L.Dem, Newhaven Valley) said: “I’m in touch with the head teachers and East Sussex County Council to try and make the best of a difficult situation.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We aim to give parents their first preference for a school place and in the majority of cases we are able to do so.

“Across the county this year more than 5,300 applications were received and more than 95 percent have been allocated a school of their choice.

“However circumstances sometimes mean it’s not always possible.

“All Newhaven parents have been offered a place for their child at a Newhaven school, although we regret that a number of parents did not get their first choice.”

The council said the decision to amalgamate Grays and Southdown to create Harbour Primary School was taken in 2012.

The reduction of school places from 90 to 60 at the former Grays Infants School happened in 2008 due to a drop of 26 per cent in primary pupil numbers in Newhaven over the previous seven years.

This year 31 children, who had Harbour as their first preference, have not been offered a place at the school.

Of these, 15 were allocated one of their other preferences and 16 were allocated places at Meeching Valley.

The spokesperson added: Happy Valley Pre School has been using space in the school building which the school now needs. This is an issue that has been discussed by the county council with the headteacher and pre-school provider.”