Less money is spent per head on educating students in Uckfield than in other parts of East Sussex. This applies at primary and secondary level, according to community technology college principal Hugh Hennebry.
Mr Hennebry was asked about expenditure on students and told a meeting at Manor Primary School on Tuesday that while students in Uckfield might get X amount per head, in other parts of the county they might receive X plus 45%. He would not name the places receiving highest funding.
“Part of that is absolutely right. Some children may come from more disadvantaged backgrounds than families in Uckfield and live in more disadvantaged areas. We are all signed up to that,” said Mr Hennebry.
But, he asked, should the difference be as wide as between X and X plus 45%? This was a decision made by county councillors and something that would have to be taken up with them.
Mr Hennebry said there were also “very real” cuts in terms of education funding. It had gone down for all schools in the Wealden area and they would continue to face education cuts moving forward. “That is the harsh reality,” he said.
Might Uckfield get another secondary school?
Mr Hennebry was a panel member at a Question Time session at Manor Primary School and he was also asked whether there was any hope of another secondary school opening in town.
“There seem to be an awful lot of primary schools feeding into your school and there will be more with the new big development at Ridgewood,” said the questioner.
Mr Hennebry said he had heard that an application to open a free school in the town had been dropped. There were concerns about whether it would be able to provide an education everybody main stream would want to use. It would have been a Steiner free school.
Mr Hennebry added it was possible that application would come back but it would only be for students up to the age of 16 and there would still be a need for a sixth form.
Sixth form numbers needed to be big enough to make a sixth form viable and so while another separate secondary school would be fine there would need to be one single sixth form, he said.
He added that while people were very concerned about a rise in the number of students because of new housing development his understanding was that it would take seven to ten years before people moved into those homes.
He was expecting a small rise in terms of pupil numbers and all primary schools were working to ensure they had the capacity for them. A close eye was also being kept on the number of teenage children needing education but it was not expected to be that many.
Road safety around college
Victoria Searle Bell raised concern at the Question Time session about parking and traffic around the Manor Park Estate, particularly in the vicinity of Uckfield Community Technology College where people seemed to ignore the Highway Code.
Parked cars, coaches and buses made it very difficult to move around which led to concern about what would happen if emergency vehicles needed to get through, said Victoria.
She also feared children could not cross the roads safely.
Mr Hennebry said the parking problem was a Manor Primary School issue as well as a UCTC one.
“In Downsview Crescent there are certain times of day that you can’t move and then suddenly all the cars disappear,” he said.
The issue had been raised with the highways department and more double lines were requested by UCTC. Some work had been done outside the college’s main entrance to reduce parking there but while the college was pressing for a further reduction highways were resisting.
Mr Hennebry said their view was that without parking along the road cars would go faster and there would be a greater risk of fatality.
Another member of the panel, Wealden district councillor Peter Waldock confirmed that highways preferred to use parked cars rather than traffic calming measures to make people slow down.
And Richard Judge, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said parking was a big issue in Uckfield at the moment, both in the High Street and near schools. He agreed yellow lines encouraged people to driver faster.
More from the Question Time session: