Pictures worth a thousand words in class row

Helen Berry with Alice, one, Louis, five, and Rowan, six. Picture: Toby Williams
Helen Berry with Alice, one, Louis, five, and Rowan, six. Picture: Toby Williams
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THEY are all brothers and sisters who face being sent to different primary schools.

Now they are set to star in an exhibition aimed at persuading city chiefs to keep them together.

A “photographic showcase” has been launched at the Tide Cafe in Portobello amid fears that moves to relieve pressure at Towerbank Primary will separate siblings.

Among options drawn up in a catchment review – and now subject to consultation – are proposals that would see pre-school siblings guaranteed a place instead of just being given priority under the placing request process.

Mums and dads have organised an exhibition of 
photography featuring portraits of youngsters who could be separated if a sibling guarantee is not secured.

Parents said the images had been displayed to “put a human face” on the discussion.

Sarah Morrison, 41, who has a daughter in P1 at Towerbank and a son at nursery, said: “I think we wanted to draw attention to the actual impact this is having on families in Portobello.

“If people here don’t vote for the option [which includes the sibling guarantee], then the children in these pictures are the ones that will be separated if they do not get a place at Towerbank.

“Rather than being just a number, you can see this is about people – you can see the children who will be affected.”

If agreed, a sibling 
guarantee would mean more of Towerbank’s current catchment area being transferred to neighbouring primaries.

Concern is growing over the future capacity impact of the measure, following recent analysis which shows there are currently 27 Towerbank pupils recorded as having younger brothers and sisters.

City leaders have also admitted they may struggle to provide equivalent data for youngsters attending private nursery or not receiving formal pre-school education.

Parents in Portobello stressed that the council’s handling of the Towerbank issue would have implications for crowded schools across the Capital.

“We do realise that the schools are at capacity and something needs to be done,” said Ms Morrison.

“When people are thinking about this they should be thinking about the number of catchment siblings and then their [accommodation] strategy.

“The siblings should always be taken into consideration first. We’ve also been leafleting everyone in Portobello and we feel that most people in Portobello support the guarantee option.”

Stephen Spence, Tide Cafe owner and father of two Towerbank Primary pupils, has given campaigning families his full backing.

He said: “A sibling guarantee sounds like a common-sense approach.

“I think parents are hopeful the council can see their point of view.”

City education leaders have urged as many residents as possible to take part in the catchment review consultation before the June 22 deadline.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “There are clearly a range of options out for consultation and it is important to stress that the council has no preferred option.

“We’ll take on board all the views submitted to us through the consultation process before making a final decision.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com