What is the issue?
The number of children joining Henleaze Infant School in reception this year is well below what has been previously experienced. The Infant School now has 62 children in reception, split across three classes.
Why is a low admission number a problem?
The fall in admissions has a significant impact on the sustainability of the school. Since schools are funded on the basis of pupil numbers, classes significantly smaller than 30 are not financially sustainable.
Why are there so few admissions?
The primary reason for this is that there are fewer children of reception age in the area. This is mainly the consequence of falling birth rate, but families moving away from the region is also a contributing factor.
With fewer children for the same total number of school places, parents have a broader choice of schools to send their children to. Consequently, some schools in our area remain full by attracting admissions from further afield, whereas others see a significant drop in numbers.
Is this due to Henleaze Infant School’s current Ofsted rating?
The primary reason for the fall in pupil numbers is that there are fewer children of reception age in the area. However, Ofsted ratings can be a significant factor influencing prospective parents’ preferences. That significance increases when other factors such as school tours and community events are curtailed, as they have been during the pandemic. Both schools are delighted again to be able to showcase our campus to prospective parents. Both schools are also ready and prepared to welcome Ofsted when the time comes.
It is important to remember however that the main cause of the drop in numbers is that there are fewer children in the area.
Will the trend reverse?
The Local Authority’s projections are based on the birth rate for the last five years, so we know that the pool of reception-aged children will continue to decline.
Both Infant and Junior schools strive to attract as many prospective pupils as possible. The re-introduction of in-person tours to both sites and a collective promotion strategy allows parents to see the amazing schools we have to offer. However, with falling birth rates, pupil admissions remains a highly ‘competitive market’, so we think it is unlikely that we will see a return to previously high numbers of applications.
We will hope to have further insight into the impact of this in early February when we are given an indication of the number of first choice applications Henleaze Infant School receives.
What is being proposed?
The Governing Board and the Headteacher at the Infant School have decided to consult on reducing their Published Admission Number (PAN) from 90 to 60 from September 2023.
What are the benefits of reducing the PAN?
By controlling the admission number, provision can be shaped to ensure the sustainability of the school.
What are the alternatives?
The Infant School has been working with the local authority to consider alternatives, one being coordinating with them to ‘cap’ pupil numbers. This is a viable option to deal with short-term variations in pupil admission numbers however, crucially, it does not provide the long-term control needed to ensure sustainability.
Collaboration with other local schools to ‘share’ admissions is not feasible within the current regulations, so is unfortunately not an option.
What if they do nothing?
If this situation is not proactively managed and future class sizes are significantly below capacity, then neither school will be financially sustainable in the longer term.
How does the PAN reduction consultation work?
Infant School Governors have informed the Local Authority of their request to reduce the PAN from 90 to 60 from September 2023. The consultation involves the Local Authority Place Planning team working with the school to consult with the school’s stakeholders. Subject to addressing any comments or concerns this will then be taken to the Director of Education and Skills at the Local Authority for approval.
What is the likely timeline for this?
The consultation begins on the 6th December and will be completed by the 31st January 2022.
The Local Authority board meets with the Director of Education and Skills in mid-February and any decision will be finalised by mid-March.
Who are the stakeholders?
Staff, parents, local nurseries and pre-schools and the local community.
Is this a done deal?
No. Prior to the PAN reduction being approved the Infant School Governing Board is permitted to withdraw the request.
What will happen if pupil numbers increase?
We continue to welcome as many pupils as possible to both schools, and it is the aim to proactively maximise admissions. Should expectations be exceeded and we return to more normal admission numbers, then the PAN reduction request may be withdrawn.
Does this affect any children who currently attend either school?
No. The proposal to reduce the PAN will only affect families applying for reception places from September 2023 onwards. All children who currently attend Henleaze Infant School will continue to do so, and they will all be guaranteed a place in Henleaze Junior School when they get to Year 3. Siblings will continue to have priority when applying for admission to either school, so unless there are more than 60 siblings applying for reception places, they are sure to be offered places. (There have never been 60 sibling applications…)
Does this affect applications to other year groups?
The change in PAN would affect the reception intake in 2023 and each subsequent year. Year groups that currently have a capacity of 90 children will continue to offer up to 90 places. The exception to that would be if interim arrangements were made for a year group, such as the current reception year, where numbers are such that a third class is not sustainable.
We hope that this makes things clear. If there are any further questions please do contact either school and we will update these FAQs.
Below is a short statement from Bristol City Council and a link to the online consultation which is live from today. We encourage any feedback via this consultation, and please be assured we are doing everything in the best interests of the children of Henleaze Infant School.
Proposed changes to Henleaze Infant School Admissions for September 2023.
Due to falling pupil numbers across the city over recent years, we have identified some challenges in continuing to operate at the current capacity whilst striving to balance the school budget and deliver our expected high standard of educational provision for all of our pupils. The Local Authority pupil forecasts indicate that numbers are likely to remain low for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, it is financially unsustainable for us to keep the Published Admission Number (PAN) at 90 for our reception year. Therefore, we are proposing that our intake will be reduced to 60 from September 2023/2024.
It is a legal requirement for all schools to publicly consult when changes to the admission arrangements are proposed. Admissions for Henleaze Infant School are managed by Bristol City Council who have opened a public consultation for anyone who wishes to give their feedback regarding this change. If you would like to comment, please visit their consultation page via this link:
Alternatively email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
The consultation is open until 31st January 2022 and all responses will be taken into consideration before a final decision is made.