Catholic schools unable to meet P1 placing demand

49 children have registered for just 25 places at St Ninian's Primary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
49 children have registered for just 25 places at St Ninian's Primary. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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ALMOST every Catholic primary school in the city will be unable to meet the total number of requests made for pupils starting primary 1 in August, new figures show.

The number of catchment and out of catchment registrations exceeds places available at 12 of the Capital’s 15 Roman Catholic primary schools.

It follows a warning from education chiefs that as many as 40 primary schools across Edinburgh could close their doors to children outwith their catchment area this summer following a five per cent increase in P1 registrations over the last year.

Last March, the Evening News reported that in ten of the city’s 15 RC primaries – St Catherine’s, St David’s, St Joseph’s, St Mary’s (Leith), St Peter’s, St Cuthbert’s, St Francis, St John’s, St Mark’s and St Ninian’s – P1 applications exceeded places available.

This year’s figure, which has risen to 12, has led to concerns that the school estate is not keeping pace with the Capital’s changing population. The three RC primary schools which can meet all their P1 requests for this year are St John Vianney, St Margaret’s and St Joseph’s.

Green education spokeswoman Councillor Melanie Main said: “The fundamental issue is one of more and more schools simply not being able to cope with a rising P1 roll, and that is going to continue to get worse over the next six years. Cllr Main added that the council should assess whether “decades-old catchment boundaries need revised”.

Pupils who do not receive a place requested in one of the RC schools will be offered a place in their local non-denominational school, or a placing request for elsewhere. City council guidelines state that in the case of RC schools, where applications from those living within the catchment area exceed the number of places available, priority is given to those “who declare an affinity with the religious beliefs of the school”.

In these cases, parents must submit evidence that their child has been baptised in the Roman Catholic Church.

Lindsay Law, 34, parent representative on the city council’s education committee, believes parents should be told sooner whether their child has been allocated a place.

“It’s quite concerning for parents not knowing – you find out very late if you have got a place or not, so some parents have been in the position where the council wasn’t expecting to be able to tell them until the first week of term if their child had got in or not,” she said.

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “In the case of Roman Catholic schools, we need to ensure baptised pupils are given places in the first instance and we are confident we can cater for all of them.

“However, placing requests are getting even more difficult to accommodate and the reality is many parents may not get their requested school. I would encourage them to think twice about their local catchment school – we have excellent teachers working in wonderful schools across the city.”