Rejected parents slam class ruling

Lorraine McMurdo and her son, Jamie
Lorraine McMurdo and her son, Jamie
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PARENTS of almost 20 children who were refused a place at a city primary school today hit out at the council for removing a primary one teacher due to a lack of demand.

Royal High Primary School, which is moving a primary one teacher to another school in August, received 21 applications from children out of its catchment area but only approved four.

Instead of having two primary one classes at the start of the new term, the school will have one primary one class and a composite primary one/two class.

The city council said the decision was taken following a reduction in the number of pupils applying from within the catchment area this year compared with 2011, adding that it “cannot justify creating a class purely for non- catchment children”.

But angry parents, several of whom already have children at the school, criticised the decision and the majority of the remaining 17 families will appeal the decision.

Lorraine McMurdo’s son, Jamie, four, was refused an out-of-catchment request for the school. She has two other sons at the school – Ryan, 11, and Rhys, eight.

Mrs McMurdo, 31, who previously lived in Craigentinny but now lives in Tranent, said she would be forced to take Rhys out of the school if Jamie’s appeal was unsuccessful, with the brothers instead having to go to their catchment school – Windygoul Primary in Tranent – as she would be unable to be in “two places at the same time”.

Mrs McMurdo said: “I was really upset when I got the letter saying Jamie’s request had been refused. I probably cried for a good couple of days.

“It would be detrimental to Rhys if he had to change school.”

Susan Morrison, 42, whose son was also denied an out-of-catchment place at the school, added: “From the letter we received, it would appear Royal High will have 33 primary one pupils, with 17 requests being refused. If these 17 requests were granted, then that would equate to 50 primary one pupils, allowing for exactly two primary one classes – which has been the case for many years.

“It would seem madness to cut a class at the Royal High Primary when they have capacity to happily accommodate two primary one classes, whereas other primary schools are being put under immense pressure.”

Xanthe and Andy O’Brien, who live in Craigentinny, may also be affected by the changes.

Mrs O’Brien, a mother-of-three, said: “My daughter, Flora, is in primary one now, and so could possibly be in the composite class next year. I wouldn’t be happy if this was the case because I would be concerned that the teacher’s main attention would be on settling in the new children, so my child would suffer as a result.”

Catchment issues were discussed by council officials at a meeting of the Pupil Placement Review Group yesterday.

Mike Rosendale, head of schools, said: “We have to prioritise placing pupils in their local school first. We have been able to accommodate all catchment children at the Royal High Primary and cannot justify creating a class purely for non-catchment children.”

Appeals soar as requests are refused

LAST year, education bosses appealed to parents to send their children to their local catchment school after the number of children refused places at their first-choice primary almost tripled in a year.

A total of 345 children missed out on places at out-of-catchment schools in 2011, equating to 37 per cent of the 1099 requests.

In 2010, just 127 – or 11 per cent – were refused their first-choice school.

Education chiefs were also swamped with appeals from parents who failed to get their child into their choice of primary school last year.

The number of appeals almost doubled after new legislation reduced primary one class sizes, with 233 challenges received last year.

Appeals were made for places in 50 of the Capital’s 87 schools in 2011, compared with 20 the previous year, as a record number of out-of-catchment requests were refused in 2011.