Parents told to visit nearest primary as place refusals triple

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EDUCATION bosses are appealing to parents to send their children to their local catchment school after the number of children refused places at their first-choice primary tripled in a year.

A total of 345 children missed out on places at out-of-catchment schools this year – which equates to 37 per cent of all the 1099 requests. Last year, just 127 – or 11 per cent – were refused their first-choice school.

The rise comes as the impact of new Holyrood legislation to limit primary one class sizes to 25 is felt for the first time.

And as the application process for next year’s intake gets under way, education bosses warned the number of refusals is likely to increase.

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren today urged parents to visit their local schools and see for themselves what is on offer.

She said: “Edinburgh has an education service to be proud of, with great schools and a fantastic staff team which extends right across the city.

“Unfortunately we are finding that many parents don’t always see what is on offer at their local school, instead opting to apply for a school in a different catchment area. We know the opportunities to grant placing requests in coming years will reduce even further, so parents need to consider their choices carefully, particularly those who expect to have younger brothers and sisters in need of places in years to come.

“As this year’s application process begins, we’re calling for parents to go to their local school, talk to the headteacher, to staff and to other parents to see what’s on offer.”

The registration process for next year’s primary ones begins on November 14, and education officials say that with school rolls on the rise, there is likely to be even less choice this year and in future years.

The schools with the most requests for out-of-catchment places for this academic year included the Royal High Primary, Craiglockhart, Davidson’s Mains and Sciennes. A number of schools – James Gillespie’s, Liberton, St Mary’s (Leith), St Peter’s, Trinity and Wardie – had to refuse every single placing request they received as classes were already full with catchment pupils.

Before the new Scottish Government legislation, the legal class size limit for primary one was 30. Council bosses tried to stick to the national guidance of 25, but a series of legal challenges forced classes up to 30.

Despite the overall school roll increasing over the past three years, the council has closed seven primary schools in recent years as they were under-occupied, and there are still empty places at many of Edinburgh’s primaries.