BY Ryan McDougall | February 8 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Catholic parents protest as ‘unfair’ ballot denies children places at oversubscribed school

PARENTS are pressing Renfrewshire Council for answers as to why their children have been unable to secure a place in a local Catholic secondary school.


St Andrew’s High School in Paisley is currently oversubscribed, and while children at the associated Catholic primary schools were all allocated places at the secondary, the names of children from non-feeder primaries whose parents want them to attend the school in the next academic year were placed in a ballot.

Catholic parents seeking a place at the school, whose children attend non-denominational primaries, said their children should have received priority, but that their child’s Faith was not given enough consideration by the council.

One parent described the ballot as a ‘tombola’ and that the council should reassess which children are given priority.

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, added that the council ‘took no consideration of siblings, or location, or any other factor used for a placing request.’

They said their child would now need to attend the non-denominational Paisley Grammar school, which was a ‘1.8 mile walk away.’

The parent described the long walk as ‘dangerous’ and told the council: “I feel the ballot was the most unfair way to allocate spaces as we stay right next to [the school].

“All [my daughter’s] friends got a space. Some children had spaces at other schools which they were eligible for transport safely to and from school but now my daughter is left to be at risk for her education.

“We are not alone with this as there are other parents from [her child’s primary school] in the same position.”

The campaigning parent stressed they are ‘not backing down’ until the council reviews the ballot and offers answers.

Another parent, who also wished to remain anonymous, said their child was the last name to be drawn out of the ballot, meaning they will not be able to attend St Andrew’s, where their sibling is currently enrolled.

“How do they have the right to split families up?” the parent asked.

The parent added: “I totally agree with feeder schools getting priority as long as the child is of the Catholic Faith. Those who attend feeder schools and aren’t Catholic should have been balloted too.

“When you find out that kids in the ballot who were successful have no siblings in the high school and stay miles away, it makes you so angry.”

Councillor Jim Paterson, convenor of Renfrewshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Board, said: “We are committed to providing the best teaching environment possible within all our schools to allow our children to reach their full potential, regardless of which school they attend, and ensuring a high-quality education remains a key priority of the council.

“Due to unprecedented demand, the maximum number of places in S1 at St Andrew’s Academy is oversubscribed and, in line with our policy for school admissions, all pupils who attend the associated catchment primary schools, St John Ogilvie and St Charles, have been allocated a place, unless they attend this school as a result of a placing request.

“All other families who asked for a place at St Andrew’s were entered into a ballot to determine the remaining places, which was undertaken by a member of the council’s internal audit team to ensure fairness and transparency.

“Pupils from a non-associated primary who were not allocated a place can attend Paisley Grammar as their associated secondary school or make a placing request for one of our other schools.

“Secondary school pupils who live more than two miles away from their catchment school are entitled to a place on a school bus. This policy ensures every pupil is treated fairly and equitably.”

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