Why are you doing this, what is the need?

    Our data shows there is currently over 1,500 surplus places amongst primary schools in Worthing and Durrington, so around 17% of all available places are currently unfiled. Schools have to plan their resources and staffing levels on the number of pupils they have, and because schools are mostly funded by the government per pupil, fluctuating and lower numbers of pupils creates significant difficulties for school leaders. 

    To address this issue, we have been working with all schools in the area since last year. Collectively we have produced some draft proposals. We are now in a position to share these proposals with the Worthing and wider community so people can help us shape education locally. Most schools would see no or little change under these proposals and no decisions will be made until a full consultation has taken place and people have shared their views.

    Is this about funding?

    This is not about council funding. This is about supporting schools to reduce the number of unfilled primary school places, which is currently affecting the viability of some individual schools in the area. There would likely to be a cost to the council to implement these proposals, rather than a saving.

    Why is a new school (The Bluebells) being built in Worthing when there are already unfilled places?

    The Bluebell Primary School is a Department for Education-approved free school which the DfE is funding and building and has awarded to an academy trust to run. The latest timeline is that it is due to be built by 2024 and will create over 400 additional primary school places. This is being built and funded by the DfE, outside of any involvement from the County Council.

    How many places are we looking to reduce?

    We estimate some 953 of the 1,500 surplus places would be removed if all of the proposals take place.


    What is the cause of the unfilled places in Worthing?

    The birth-rate across West Sussex has been falling for the last few years and many Worthing and Durrington schools have retained the high number of available places they adopted from the Age of Transfer Review in the area 2014-15. As part of our role, we look closely at future, predicted numbers, and we are clear that there is no requirement for schools to continue to operate their current pupil admissions numbers.

    What is the proportion of surplus places across West Sussex? How does this compare nationally?

    Across the whole of West Sussex the number of surplus places reported in the Planning School Places Report 2022 was 10.2%.  The National Audit Office recommends local authorities try to achieve a surplus of no more than 5%, so we are responsible for closely monitoring schools with a surplus greater than 5%.

    How will this help children who go to school in Worthing and Durrington?

    Worthing and Durrington headteachers and governing bodies have encouraged the County Council to review primary provision across the area as surplus places impact upon the finances available to schools for staff and resources. Varying sizes of year groups in a school makes teacher arrangement and recruitment a challenge for its leaders. By helping schools to better fill their class sizes, they will be able to plan their teaching arrangements better and this in turn will support outcomes for children. Under these plans, there will still be plenty of school choices for parents locally.