Parents call for schools to scrap saving places

Classroom places not filled at the start of term used to be offered to out-of-catchment kids on waiting lists. Picture: PA
Classroom places not filled at the start of term used to be offered to out-of-catchment kids on waiting lists. Picture: PA
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SCHOOLS across the Capital can now reserve places for an entire term in case new families move into the catchment area.

Places not filled by the start of term were previously offered to out-of-catchment youngsters on waiting lists.

But they can now hold one P1 spot per teacher for the duration of the school year.

Education bosses said the move would help ensure children who live in catchment areas get places at local schools.

But angry parents on waiting lists for schools out of their catchment area have called for the council to scrap the new policy. More than 150 people have signed a petition calling for a U-turn.

They accused the education department of trying to “stamp out” their ability to choose where children are enrolled.

One father of a non-catchment pupil attending Corstorphine Primary, who asked not to be named, said the regulations had forced him to send his younger child to a different school, even though there are around three P1 places available at Corstorphine.

He said: “It’s a logistical nightmare [and] has put a huge strain on the family – basically, our older child is late for school every day and the council’s view is that we need to organise our own childcare.

“I think we have been massively let down by the entire system. On the Facebook page [for the petition] there are other parents who have said that the same thing happened to them.

“This policy impacts on anyone who, for whatever reason, applies to have their child attend a non-catchment school – but the biggest impact is on parents of siblings already at school.”

Amid predictions that primary school rolls will soar more than 13 per cent to nearly 32,000 by 2020, council bosses have organised information campaigns to drive home the message that younger siblings are highly unlikely to be offered non-catchment places.

“If Corstorphine Primary was full, you would accept that – but the issue is that the school is not full,” said the father. “And I would criticise the way the policy has been implemented. The children and families department implemented it without full consultation.”

City chiefs said proposals for the new system were presented to parents via council committees and neighbourhood groups.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Our priority is and remains to 
provide sufficient places for catchment children. Over successive years the council has sought to promote the benefits to communities of parents choosing their local school and we remain committed to that principle.

“We have also been clear that in a time of rapidly rising school rolls and increasing catchment demand that siblings are increasingly unlikely to gain an out-of-catchment place, and parents need to be aware of this when they make the original application.”