Comment: ‘Education bosses have a headache’

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The fresh warning to parents today that out-of-catchment school placing requests are likely to be refused will not come as a huge surprise to many.

It is an issue which Edinburgh has been struggling with for years, complicated by a soaring population and already cramped conditions in the most popular schools. New extensions have been approved for many buildings but these will still not cope with the level of demand.

Indeed, it is difficult to see what else the city council could say to parents considering where to send their children other than urging them to use their local primary.

But while it may be entirely understandable, it does leave education bosses with a headache. Popular schools are, after all, popular for a reason.

Parents don’t choose to send their children to be taught in a different area for the sake of it. They make their decision primarily based on reputation, inspection reports and results. If their local school meets their expectations then they would naturally choose it without hesitation.

The challenge for the city council then is to look at the poorer-performing primaries and implement an action plan which will drive up standards to a similar level across the board. This is a challenge which the council will have little option but to meet, especially as we report lawyers are circling the issue of refused catchment requests.

Parents who are stuck with a school which they may not otherwise have chosen will be rightly demanding improvements.

More children being channelled into the less-popular schools coupled with these fresh demands will help but it will take investment, time, and hard work to bring about the change required.

While warning that parents should use their local school, the council must also give parents an assurance that it will give their child the best possible start in life.