Paul Godzik: We must tackle ‘catchment fraud’

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Every parent wants what’s best for their child and this means ensuring that they get the best possible start in life and of course the best possible education. I’m proud the Capital’s schools offer such a good standard of education, and so much of the work done in our schools, such as the 1+2 language provision and our literacy programme, has been nationally recognised. Primary Schools like Castleview in Craigmillar and Kirkliston have recently had very good and excellent gradings by Education Scotland, as have Craigroyston and Firrhill in the secondary sector. 

So there are fantastic learning opportunities available right across the city. But despite this, some parents still have preconceived ideas about some schools and areas, leading them to discount their local school in favour of one that they believe to be better.

Recent media coverage of our crackdown on “catchment fraud” highlights the lengths a small number of families will go to get a place at their chosen school. This is a matter we take very seriously as our priority is to provide placements for children at their local school. The fact that some might miss out because of a fraudulent placement request from someone who doesn’t live in the catchment area is clearly something that concerns many parents.

That’s why we are cracking down on this by working with the council’s fraud team to access a greater range of information, such as credit checks, to make sure that the information we receive from parents is accurate. We will continue to carry out spot checks to make sure that people aren’t cheating the system.

Edinburgh’s primary school population is forecast to reach 31,000 by 2020. To meet the ever increasing demand for school places we are doing all we can to invest in more space for our pupils and the pupils of the future. In the past two years we have delivered an extra 70 modern, high-quality class spaces in our primary school estate. This will help us to ensure there are enough places for children in their area, but the space that was once there for out-of-catchment places will simply no longer be available.

I would always urge parents to visit their local primary school before making any judgements. I am confident that when they do they will see for themselves the excellent work and dedication of our teachers and the high standard of education they deliver.  Schools benefit enormously from a strong community ethos and also from a high level of parental involvement.  So I would also say to parents – by choosing your local school, becoming involved and helping it develop and thrive, you are playing a vital role in supporting your community. That’s not only good for your child, but for your local area and our city as a whole. 

Councillor Paul Godzik is city council education convener