Cllr Godzik outlines why school placing requests are proving more and more difficult to meet

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families Committee, outlines the difficulties for city schools in the face of increased birth rates and a growing population.

It's no secret that we are experiencing a baby boom in Scotland and that inward migration in Edinburgh is up.  The number of P1 registrations has increased by at least 5 per cent on last year and we need to respond to this as do parents wishing to send their children to an out of catchment school in Edinburgh.

It's been an issue here for quite some time that placing requests have, by far and away, outnumbered availability.  Thankfully, this year we have seen some progress following a concerted campaign to educate parents about their local catchment school and the benefits of their child attending there; which has meant requests are down 15 per cent on last year.

That said, we are still looking at more than 700 placing requests; that vast majority of which schools will not be able to accommodate.  Parents who have submitted a placing request should be prepared for the fact that they may not get the place they were hoping for and recent experience has been that appeals are unlikely to be successful.  However, their child will be registered with their local catchment school and will start next August alongside other local children.

Since I became Convener of Education I have met a number of parents who faced similar situations in the last few years.  Happily, they report things have worked out well and that their local catchment school is providing very well for their child.  We have been encouraging parents to visit their local schools and see for themselves the good work being carried out.  Preconceptions can be misleading and we want parents to make their minds up individually.

For many of our schools, the increased roll is presenting challenges in meeting demand from their own catchment pupils.  In an attempt to ensure we can provide places for catchment children, we are proposing to provide extra classrooms at four city primary schools.  Wardie, Trinity, Victoria and Granton, are all in dire need of more classroom space due to the large number of registrations at these popular schools.

We have worked with these schools to address their individual needs and planning applications have been agreed for high quality extensions at Wardie and Granton, with a view to having these new classrooms in place for the start of the next academic year.  Similar planning applications for Trinity and Victoria will be heard in the near future.

We will continue to work with all schools facing similar issues in future but the reality is placing requests are becoming more a thing of the past and that is a reality parents need to be aware of.

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