Parents joy at Towerbank school place ruling

Towerbank Primary pupils and nursery kids protest outside City Chambers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Towerbank Primary pupils and nursery kids protest outside City Chambers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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PARENTS fighting to ensure that catchment changes at a crowded city primary do not result in brothers and sisters attending different schools are set to win their campaign for a “sibling guarantee” scheme.

Education bosses have recommended that boundary alterations at Towerbank Primary in Portobello include proposals to grant places to pre-school siblings of current pupils.

This would be instead of offering priority under the placing request process.

A statutory consultation was held after Towerbank was identified as having capacity issues from August next year amid soaring class rolls.

Families had warned that having siblings registered at different primaries would create huge strain due to longer school runs which could make youngsters late for class.

And they claim they would be forced to fork out for breakfast clubs – when one child may have to be dropped off early to allow for another to be transported to a different school.

Parents are also concerned that extra charges could be incurred through having to pay for after-school clubs so a pupil can be cared for while a brother or sister is picked up elsewhere.

Confirmation of official backing for a sibling guarantee – which will be subject to final approval by councillors later this month – has sparked delight among parents.

And they said it would have significant implications for school admissions policy across Edinburgh and Scotland.

Mum Sarah Morrison, 41, who has a daughter in primary two at Towerbank and a son at nursery, said: “I think it’s important to recognise that the final decision has not been made so we can’t quite celebrate yet – we’ll have to press our case to make sure that the councillors go for the sibling guarantee option.

“I also think it’s important that other councils in Scotland have tried to have a sibling guarantee in place when they first start considering a catchment review.

“The councillors’ vote on October 22 will not only have an impact on our children but also on other families in Edinburgh and across Scotland. It will send out an important message about the value they place on the principle of local schools for local children.”

There are around 29,000 primary school pupils in Edinburgh but latest estimates show this will rise to 31,700 by 2020 and then increase further to 35,400 by 2030.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Throughout this process we have listened to the views of parents and the vast majority of replies have shown a desire for the option which gives a sibling guarantee.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com