Education consultation gets overwhelming support
Consultation on proposed changes to admission arrangements for East Ren schools gets overwhelming support from residents.
The Council's Education Committee is being asked to approve proposed changes to admissions arrangements for primary and secondary schools in the area* following the outcome of a public consultation.
We asked interested individuals and groups to feedback on proposals for a single set of school admissions criteria to enable it to meet the high demand for places from residents across the entire school estate, but in particular those seeking a place at a Roman Catholic school.
During the consultation - which ran from 26 August 2016 to10 October 2016 - a variety of engagement events took place including two public meetings and meetings with parent councils.
More than 1700 responses were received through the general consultation with the overwhelming majority - some 72 per cent - supportive of the proposals. Pupils in our schools were also consulted and again the majority - 54 per cent - also supported the proposal.
However, of the responses received which were not in favour, one of the key areas of feedback was the possible impact on families who have already committed to a particular school for their older children but whose younger children may potentially be required to attend a different school if not a baptised Roman Catholic. Parents were therefore concerned that this may result in them having children at more than one school at the same time.
As a direct consequence of this feedback the proposals have been changed so that higher priority will be given to children who already have siblings in a particular school for a period of two years. This will help those families who have already committed to a particular school.
The paper, to be submitted to Education Committee, also makes it clear that the Council will continue to work hard to tackle attempts to obtain a place in ERC schools by deception.
I am extremely grateful to all those who took the time to either attend one of our public meetings or feedback their views to us in writing. We are a listening council and whilst the vast majority supported our proposals there were some respondents who expressed concern about having already committed to a particular school for their older children. We have taken these views on board and amended the proposals accordingly to help give this group of families a higher priority to continue with their chosen route for their younger children. I believe that these proposed changes to admission arrangements will allow us to continue to effectively and fairly manage the demand for places throughout our schools.
Residents were also very clear in their consultation feedback that they wanted to see further action regarding fraudulent attempts to gain places in ERC schools. Because our schools are so popular this is an issue which we are already tackling and a range of measures are already in place to check the validity of residency information. To strengthen this approach we will be asking for any rental agreements to be for a minimum of one year, instead of the six months previously asked for, and where we have significant doubt about where an applicant resides - or if we receive allegations of falsified information - the steps we take to confirm this may include surveillance where necessary and proportionate to do so.
Any attempts to obtain a place by deception may result in the rescinding of a child's place and the matter being passed to the Procurator Fiscal's office for consideration of criminal proceedings.
Mhairi Shaw - Director of Education
The consultation report will be considered by the Council's Education Committee on 20 December 2016.
If approved the proposed changes would only apply to new primary and secondary pupils from January 2017 onwards.
More information on the consultation and the report can be found on our school admissions consultation page.
*These proposals do not include Calderwood Lodge.