Today’s Brentwood Gazette reveals the current picture on pupil entry numbers for Brentwood’s secondary schools for September 2012 entry. This must be seen as “current” because the funding agreement for the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School has yet to be agreed and, as the Gazette reveals, some parents are apparently still holding two offers despite being asked by Essex CC to make their final choice by March 19th.
The article is available here:
The article illustrates the position by providing the pupil admission number (PAN) for each school for this year’s intake and the numbers who have currently accepted (or not rejected) offers for each school. Anglo-European, St Martin’s and Brentwood Ursuline schools are reported as full but the proposed “free school” and the two existing schools geographically closest to it’s intended location still have places available.
Shenfield High School expect 7 less children than last year and have 34 places still available, Brentwood County High 18 less but with spaces for 22 and Becket Keys are now reporting that, in contrast to their reported numbers a fortnight ago, they will now open with “between 120 and 150 pupils” against a stated PAN of 150 (revised to 176 two weeks ago).
The number of pupils is important for funding considerations but more so for existing schools than new ones. A document provided on the “Essex Schools Infolink” website provides further clarification. A document on the site (esi.essexcc.gov.uk/) entitled “Information to Support 2011-2012 Budget Planning by Schools” lays out the budget per head of pupil for 2011-12 thus:
Lump sum £4,000.oo
Per Primary pupil £11.25
Per Sec pupil £16.675
Per SEN pupil £33.75
This provides an illustration of the revenue that will be lost to the existing schools due to the drop in numbers. The free school is protected from this to a degree as they will receive a start up fund, despite moving into an existing school building with existing equipment. To provide a full picture this sum should be made available to the Brentwood public as part of the consultation that is supposed to be taking place at the moment. We can then judge whether setting up a new school in the current climate when there are excess places elsewhere is a good use of public money and respond to the consultation accordingly.
As we reported in our post “Becket Keys consultation needs to engage the whole of Brentwood” (http://wp.me/p2dr6s-65), the Secretary of State must consider the effect of opening a school on existing ones in the area when assessing whether to sign a funding agreement. This is covered by Section 9 of the 2010 Academies Act but is not mentioned in any of the information on the consultation on the Becket Keys website.
Parents of children in existing schools have not been considered sufficiently so far and yet, as we have illustrated, they are likely to be affected by this potential drop in revenue. They should be given the chance to express their views on the potential effect of the free school before any funding agreement is passed. Becket Keys should address this urgently.