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Consultation to reduce the intake at High Down Schools, Portishead

High Down Schools Governing Body is consulting on reducing its Planned Admission Number (PAN) from 90 to 60 in September 2022. This would mean that the school would admit only two Reception classes from September 2022, instead of the current three.

Pupil numbers for Reception classes in Portishead are declining and recent figures from North Somerset Council, demonstrate empty places in the Lighthouse Schools Partnership Portishead primaries amounting to: 51 in September 2021, 44 in September 2022, 100 in September 2023 and 51 in September 2024. The Trust expects the greatest proportion of these vacant spaces to be at High Down as the school is furthest from the largest population of housing in the town.

North Somerset Council’s forecasts predict that even with a reduction of 30 spaces at High Down from September 2022 there would still be empty reception places in Portishead: 14 in 2022, 70 in 2023, 21 in 2024. 

Headteacher Andreya Cowan said “Maintaining high standards of education at High Down is paramount. Our governing body is being proactive to manage the reduced demand for places which would have a negative impact on the school’s finances”. As the majority of school funding comes from the number of children in the school, having large numbers of spaces would quickly reduce the budget and make it impossible to provide high quality education for the children on roll. “We are very proud of our school, and the education we provide to our children, however decisions such as this should be considered if they are in the best interest of the whole school community.”

This decision has been made following detailed analysis of the projected local demographics and should there be an increase in demand for place in the future then High Down School will consider a breach of their PAN to welcome extra children. High Down has a clear track record of supporting children in Portishead and has breached twice to take additional classes.

Gary Lewis, Chief Executive of the Lighthouse Schools Partnership explains “As we are facing another period of financial pressures it is very important that schools are able to run cost effectively so that we can spend our funding for the benefit of the pupils.  Our schools have always co-operated fully with North Somerset Council to ensure that there are enough local school places for our communities and we will be ready to increase the Planned Admissions Number immediately if the forecasts show the need for an additional class in Portishead.”

Comments and feedback on this proposal are most welcome. They can be submitted by post by writing to: Lighthouse Schools Partnership, St Mary’s Road, Portishead, North Somerset, BS20 7QR or emailing:  Please include 'Admissions Consultation' in the email subject. The full admission consultation can be found here on the LSP and High Down Schools websites.