Parents’ petition as rising primary roll brings big changes

Youngsters protest outside the City Chambers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Youngsters protest outside the City Chambers. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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HUNDREDS of families have signed a petition in support of a “sibling guarantee” scheme, to ensure moves aimed at relieving pressure at an overcrowded primary school do not separate brothers and sisters.

Proposals were unveiled earlier this year that could see Towerbank Primary’s catchment area altered dramatically in a bid to accommodate soaring rolls.

Parents of pupils at the Portobello school have warned that having siblings registered at different primaries would create huge strain on them.

They say they would face longer school runs, which could make children regularly late for class.

And claim they would be forced to fork out for breakfast clubs – when one child may have to be dropped off early to allow for another to be transported to a different school.

Parents are also concerned that extra charges could be incurred by having to pay for after-school clubs, to allow for a child to be cared for after classes are over, while another youngster is picked up in a different location.

Among options drawn up in the catchment review are proposals that would see pre-school siblings guaranteed admission, instead of just being given priority under the placing request process.

Now, with only days to go until the city council publishes its recommendation on which option to take forward, families have presented their petition, with at least 500 signatures, to education leader Councillor Paul Godzik.

A final decision on approving a possible sibling guarantee and catchment changes is due to be taken during a meeting of the full council next month.

Mum Sarah Morrison, 41, who has a daughter in Primary 2 at Towerbank and a son at nursery, said: “I just think we want to keep in people’s minds that the decision has not been made and how important it is that siblings stay with their older brothers and sisters.

“We’ve had over 500 signatures for the petition. Most of these have been families and friends but also from people from Portobello who have not been affected.

“We’re really pleased that people have supported us.”

If agreed, a sibling guarantee scheme would mean more of Towerbank’s current catchment area being transferred to neighbouring primaries.

Concern is growing over the future impact of the measure, following recent analysis which shows there are currently 27 Towerbank pupils recorded as having younger brothers and sisters.

City council leaders have admitted they may struggle to provide equivalent data for youngsters attending private nursery or those who are not receiving formal pre-school education.

Fears have also emerged that selling a five-a-side football complex to help pay for a revamp of Meadowbank Stadium could lead to housing developments springing up next to Towerbank, fuelling a further surge in catchment demand.

Sean Watters, secretary of Portobello Community Council, said: “To have another potential housing development on the football site would complicate things.

“The pitches are on quite a big site and it’s used by the school during the day because it doesn’t have much in the way of sports facilities.”

Parents campaigning for a sibling guarantee initiative, said they were hopeful of securing the outcome they want.

Ms Morrison said: “Hopefully, there’ll be a positive decision.”