Parents’ anger over school catchment areas row

Parents and pupils demonstrate outside Towerbank Primary School. Picture: Jane Barlow

Parents and pupils demonstrate outside Towerbank Primary School. Picture: Jane Barlow

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PARENTS at one of the Capital’s most popular primaries have launched a campaign to ensure a planned catchment review does not prevent children from attending the same school as their brothers and sisters.

Mums and dads of Towerbank Primary pupils in Portobello are calling for pre-school siblings to be protected by a “catchment guarantee” in the event that boundary changes mean youngsters are no longer in line for a place.

Proposals were unveiled last month which could see Towerbank’s catchment altered dramatically in a bid to accommodate soaring rolls. But families said having siblings registered at different primaries would create huge strain as they face longer school runs, which could make children regularly late for class, as well as forking out for breakfast and after-school clubs.

The call comes as the Capital’s primary schools prepare to cope with a population boom that could see registrations jump more than a quarter from around 28,000 currently to 35,400 by 2030.

Sarah Morrison, 41, who has a daughter in P1 at Towerbank and a son at nursery, said: “What the council is proposing at the moment is that if there are younger siblings of current pupils at Towerbank Primary, they would be offered priority places – but priority does not guarantee a place.

“Some of us are really quite stressed about this. It’s really quite an emotional time. When we enrolled our daughter, we assumed we would have a place for our younger son.

“Now we have a year of worry. We understand that the catchment has to be changed. All we are asking for is guaranteed younger sibling places.”

The call has been backed by leaders of Towerbank’s parent council and political figures. Sean Watters, parent council chair, said: “I would support a catchment guarantee but we do need more information about what the implications are.

“If you guarantee sibling places, there’s a risk you go over the school’s capacity limit – but the council does not know what that risk is because we don’t know exactly how many one, two and three-year-olds are waiting in the wings.”

Councillor Maureen Child, Labour member for Portobello and Craigmillar, said: “If we can possibly manage it, I think we should be pushing really hard for some kind of guarantee for parents in this position.”

City bosses said parents’ views would be carefully listened to. Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Council officers are working with the school and directly with parents to assess as far as is possible the potential number of siblings that may be affected. Once we’ve gathered this information we will discuss it further with the school community before publishing the final statutory consultation papers on May 8.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com