Consultation to reduce the Pupil Admission Number - Thornton Primary School

To be completed by: Mon 14 Dec 2020

Time: -Mon 14 Dec 2020 | Venue:

The Local Governing Board is consulting to reduce the PAN at Thornton Primary School from 90 to 60. The consultation will start on Monday 2nd November and run for 6 weeks until Monday 14th December 2020. The implementation date is set for September 2022.

Statutory consultation on the proposed reduction in Published Admission Number for Thornton Primary School for the 2022/23 academic year


The current Published Admission Number (PAN) at Thornton Primary School is 90. This means that the number of children admitted to the school in reception each year is a maximum of 90.

When planning primary school places in Bradford, the District is split into 26 primary school planning areas. Thornton Primary School sits in the North West 1 planning area.

The population growth in Bradford over the last decade increased pressure on primary school places, resulting in a large-scale expansion programme to meet the growth in demand. Due to a significant increase in demand in the North West 1 planning area, Thornton Primary School increased PAN in reception from 60 to 90 in September 2008. This has moved up through the school each year and is now throughout the school. The net capacity for the building is 630, made up of 90 places in each year from reception to year 6. There is a Nursery in addition to this providing places for 30FTE children.

Whilst there are still small areas of population growth, overall across the Bradford District, there is a decrease in the number of younger children registered with the NHS. This has led to a high level of surplus places in some of the primary school planning areas, including North West 1, where Thornton Primary School is situated.

Nationally, the number of live births has been falling over the last few years, with the total number of live births in 2019 being the fewest since 2004. In the Bradford District, there were 7270 live births in the 2019, which is considerably lower than recent years with the exception of 2018 when there were 7244; therefore, the Council does not anticipate that the numbers of children requiring school places in the North West 1 planning area will increase significantly in the near future.

There is one other school within the North West 1 planning area which has a PAN of 15 taking the total PAN in the area to 105. Current forecasts indicate that the number of reception places required for reception for the next four intake years are:

2021/22: 84

2022/23: 89

2023/24: 88

2024/25: 88

Thornton Primary could accommodate all of the above children but are forecasted to be allocated the following number of children:

2021/22: 69

2022/23: 74

2023/24: 73

2024/25: 73

In addition, the figures below for Thornton Primary School indicate that the first year group where the PAN was 90 was almost full, but subsequently, numbers have not been stable and the school has been struggling to fund extra teachers to enable this model to carry on.

2014/15: 88

2015/16: 79

2016/17: 78

2017/18: 85

2018/19: 66

2019/20: 74

2020/21: 69

The school is now at a point where it cannot sustain the low numbers of children that are arriving. North West 1 is not currently supporting the numbers of children needed to sustain 2 schools. Thornton Primary School cannot financially sustain a half class of children and employ a teacher on the revenue this brings, so clearly the PAN needs to reduce to 60 or the number of children needs to increase by a half form of entry so that this is nearer to the 90 PAN. 

It is worthy of note that the 2015/16 cohort now stands at 70 children in Year 5 and the 2016/17 Year 4 cohort at 68. We have made the difficult decision to merge 3 classes in to two in Year 5 and the same will happen for the Year 4 cohort when they move to Year 5. This is so that we can reduce the number of teachers employed in an effort to balance the budget.

The Local Authority’s forecast information has been used to model the school’s budget over the next five years. Three possible options have been modelled with the effects on the budget shown below over the next 5 years up to 2025:

If we do nothing and allow this situation to carry on, the impact on the budget will be a deficit of £1,135,664

If we reduce the PAN to 75 in September 2022, the impact on the budget will be a deficit of £379,664

If we reduce the PAN to 60 in September 2022, the impact on the budget will be a deficit of £199,664

The School Admissions Code requires that all admission authorities consult where they propose to reduce a PAN.

In accordance with the School Admissions Code (2014), the Thornton Primary School and Focus Trust is consulting with key stakeholders, including;

  • Parents/carers of current pupils and prospective parents of pupils
  • Bradford Council (the local authority in which the school is situated)
  • All other Admission Authorities within the District
  • Neighbouring Local Authorities
  • Councillors and MPs
  • Trade Unions
  • Anyone else who has an interest in the proposed changes


An application will be made to the EFSA.

Thornton Primary School will publish the proposal on their website.

This consultation will run for six weeks from 2nd November 2020 to 11th  December 2020, after which time any representations received will be considered and a report taken to the Board of Trustees on December 15th for a decision to be made on the PAN for Thornton Primary School.

Specific Proposal

Thornton Primary School and Focus Trust propose to reduce the PAN at Thornton Primary School from 90 to 60 from 1 September 2022.

This means that the maximum number of pupils intended to be admitted in Reception in 2022, and all subsequent Reception cohorts, will be 60. For children who already have a place at the school in other year groups there will be no change.

Factors that have been considered by Thornton Primary School when deciding to consult on this proposal include:

  • A large portion of funding received by schools is directly related to the number of pupils attending the school. Too many vacancies mean that schools will not receive the maximum possible revenue. Therefore the school is proposing to reduce the number of available places to enable the school to operate more efficiently and cost effectively.
  • The school is located in North West 1 planning area where there continues to be a falling demand for primary school places, resulting in a significant surplus across the area.
  • The total number of pupils from reception to Year 6 recorded by the school on the January 2020 census was 543 and is well below the current capacity of 630. There were also a further 42 children on roll in Nursery (out of 60)
  • Figures that have been shared by Bradford Council from the NHS show lower numbers of younger children registered with the NHS who will require a school place in the coming years
  • Thornton Primary School and Focus Trust are more than willing to look creatively at solutions in the future which may help to solve any problems resulting in a shortage of school places in the North West 1 planning area – eg a bulge year. Should the LA ask the academy to admit children substantially in excess of the 2FE, the LA will employ its bulge class funding approach.

Thornton Primary School Governors believe that reducing the PAN will assist the school to provide stability in their long-term planning and allow them to deliver high quality educational outcomes for the pupils currently on roll. The reduction in PAN will ensure that an appropriate number of places are provided for future pupils, in line with forecasts.

This consultation paper will be published on the school website: Any representations should be made to Thornton Primary School and Focus Trust via email



Published: 02/11/2020
Audience: All Headteachers of Primary and Secondary Schools in the Bradford District
Contact: Liz Davison

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