Shoreham needs new primary school or the children will suffer, headteacher warns

Shoreham is facing an education crisis if its rising population is not supported by a new primary school, according to a local headteacher.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 5:04 pm

David Etherton, headteacher at St Nicolas and St Mary’s CE Primary School in Eastern Avenue, has overseen research that he said proves predicted population increase in Adur has been vastly underestimated by West Sussex County Council and the Adur local plan.

County council predictions assume one-bedroom flats will not be inhabited by any children and do not take into account people moving from Brighton – a concept known as ‘Brighton drift’.

Social rented flats are also not factored in, under the assumption they will be taken on by people already living in Shoreham.

DM1507990a.jpg David Etherton, Headteacher, St Nicolas and St MaryCE Primary School, Shoreham. WSCC has announced plans to expand several schools including St Nicolas and St Mary CE Primary School. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150615-201603008

The local plan only forecasts 3,718 new homes, but Mr Etherton’s research predicts upwards of 5,000 taking into account developments approved or under construction.

Mr Etherton predicted many of these would be inhabited by young families or couples ready to have children.

This could lead to a shortfall of 60-90 children per year, he said – around two to three classes per year group – and not building a new school would place a huge burden on existing classes.

“All schools have a responsibility to enable teachers to have a reasonable work load,” he said

“Classes growing won’t help with the quality of the education children will receive.

“We are passionate that parents should have a good range of schools in the area. Parents don’t want schools that are over-crowded.”

In 2017 the Department for Education approved the creation of a new school, St Clement’s, which was blocked by the county council.

A spokesman for the council said it regularly reviewed projected pupil numbers using data from local plans and takes into account housing numbers and trends in pupil numbers.

The council does not ‘have a specific date’ by when the anticipated pupil population will require another primary school in Shoreham, the spokesman said, but pupil numbers would continue to be monitored.

East Worthing and Shoreham’s MP, Tim Loughton, said the council was being ‘overly cautious’ in its predictions.

“I think anyone who lives in and around Shoreham will see there will be an increase in demand, given the amount of development,” he said.

“Research shows there are people moving from Brighton and flats are increasingly being inhabited by young families.

“I don’t believe the county council’s figures and prediction modelling takes into account the fact that we are going to have an awful lot of young children coming in over the years.”