Edinburgh seeks talks with West Lothian council on catchment area change for South Queensferry pupils

Pupils at a primary school in South Queensferry could soon go on to secondary education in West Lothian rather than Edinburgh after councillors agreed to request a cross-border catchment area.

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The city council’s education committee heard that only a few P7 pupils from St Margaret’s Roman Catholic Primary in Queensferry went on each year to their catchment secondary, St Augustine’s RC High in Corstorphine, because of the distance and travel time involved.

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Instead, most of the pupils leaving St Margaret’s went to the non-denominational Queensferry High.

Katie Wotherspoon, of the St Margaret’s parent council, said St Augustine’s was seven miles away while Queensferry High was 280 yards away. She said: “Roughly, over the last five years, between two and four pupils from P7 have gone to St Augustine’s.”

But she said a recent survey among families at St Margaret’s – which covers Kirkliston and Dalmeny as well as Queensferry – found two-thirds wanted to send their child to a Catholic high school or had not yet decided and all of them backed the idea of a catchment change so their children could go to Sinclair Academy, a new Catholic secondary school in Winchburgh.

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Ms Wotherspoon said some children going to St Augustine’s had to get to the bus stop at 7.30am to get the school bus and were then getting a hot drink and toast outside the school waiting for it to open.

She said: “It’s impractical for children to take part in after-school activities if they need to take the school bus home, meaning they miss out on opportunities open to their peers.

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St Augustine's RC High School GV (Photographer Ian Georgeson)

"If they do need to stay at school longer there’s no easy public transport route back from St Augustine’s to our area. It’s also difficult for children to see their friends outside of school time because they’re so far away.”

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Louise Young, Lib Dem councillor for Almond ward, who brought the motion calling for a catchment area change, said travel between Queensferry and St Augustine’s could often take 35-40 minutes each way while Sinclair Academy would mean a round trip for parents of approximately 30 minutes and would give pupils more time for in extra-curricular activities, homework, or time with family.

Cllr Young said: "Edinburgh Council was approached by West Lothian Council during construction of Sinclair Academy, regarding the option to include West of Edinburgh in their catchment. I’m hoping they will be equally open to discussing this move with us at this time.”

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Angela Campbell, the Catholic church representative on the education committee, said Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh supported the call for a change in catchment area.

The committee agreed unanimously to start formal discussions with West Lothian Council on the option of realigning the catchment area.

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