Parents slam Catholic school rules

Parents and children outside St John Vianney Nursery. Picture: Toby Williams
Parents and children outside St John Vianney Nursery. Picture: Toby Williams
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PARENTS at a popular Roman Catholic primary have hit out at the “injustice” of the Capital’s admissions system after children were blocked from attending the same school as their brothers and sisters.

At least 15 catchment families at St John Vianney Primary are launching appeals against a decision to refuse nursery-age siblings a place.

Applications have been rejected because the youngsters are not baptised Roman Catholics and admitting every child would leave the school over capacity.

But mums and dads insist there are enough teachers and classrooms to accommodate incoming children and are calling for pre-school siblings to be protected by a catchment guarantee.

The call comes amid rising demand for P1 spots at Edinburgh’s Catholic primaries, with new figures showing there were 772 P1 catchment registrations in January this year – a seven per cent increase on 2014.

Parents today said they had been left “bamboozled, confused and sick with worry” after being told children would have to join a waiting list.

Mum of three Nicola Robertson, 28, who has children in P4 and P6 at St John Vianney Primary and a daughter in the school’s nursery class, said: “I would like all my children to be in one school.

“It would be so stressful if I had to take two kids up to St John Vianney and one to Liberton. One of the kids would be late or the two older kids would be late and I’d have the board on to me saying my children are always late for school. I would probably need to drop two of my kids off at breakfast club and it would be so much money. I would be paying £40 a fortnight.”

“It shouldn’t matter if the kids are Catholic or non-Catholic, they really enjoy that school. They love doing prayers [and] they enjoy being part of a Catholic school.”

Mum Angela Ocak, 45, who has a son in P1 at the school and twins at the nursery, said: “I am a practising Catholic and I want my children to be brought up in the Catholic ethos. At the time of birth my husband was not of a particular faith and we decided not to have the children baptised, but the intention is that they will be.

“It’s the injustice of the situation. I’m totally bamboozled and worried as to how I’m going to manage come August with children at two separate schools and me going to work.”

Education leaders said the policy of refusing non-denominational catchment applications to crowded Catholic primaries was a longstanding one. Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “All local baptised Roman Catholic children have been given a P1 place at St John Vianney RC primary.

“All parents making out-of-catchment placing requests or requests into the RC sector do so in the knowledge that sibling places cannot be guaranteed in future years.

“However, the council’s school placement team are working with local families and looking closely at this matter.”