BY Amanda Connelly | May 11 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Notre Dame parents’ anger at consultation exclusion

Parents at a Catholic primary school have criticised Glasgow City Council after a consultation on catchment areas ignored their campaign to gain access for their children to a highly rated all girls school.

The Notre Dame Primary parents are spearheading a campaign to have boys admitted to Notre Dame High School in Glasgow, the country’s only remaining state-funded all-girls school.

The campaigners said they were dismayed that the consultation will not consider their fight, saying that the council ‘failing to ask whether the school should become co-educational makes it impossible to tell how large the school’s catchment area should be.’

The parents said that although a consultation had been promised on the school’s single-sex identity, there was not a definitive timeline in place, and councillors had suggested that those with children in Primary 4 should assume that the school would still be single sex when they go to high school in 2021.

Glasgow City Council is looking to hear the views of parents, carers and stakeholders on proposal which would see changes made to school placing request criteria and secondary school catchment areas in the city. Consultations will start on Monday May 14 and end Monday September 24.

Councillor Chris Cunningham, who is the city convener for education, skills and early years, said: “The current placing request criteria have not been updated in more than 10 years.”

“The council is taking the opportunity now to look at all catchment areas so that there is a one key criteria for each of our 30 secondary schools across the city,” he added. “At the moment we have two systems—either a line on a map (delineated) or associated, feeder primary schools (non-delineated) and our proposals, if approved will bring clarity across all secondary schools.”

Any proposed changes will not be enacted until August 2025.

Notre Dame parent David Gould, who has an eight-year-old daughter at Notre Dame Primary School, said his ‘delight turned to disbelief’ on learning that the catchment area consultation would not ask the question on the school’s single-sex status.

“When I first became aware that Glasgow City Council was going to consult on the long-standing issue of gender discrimination at Notre Dame High School, I was delighted,” he said. “However, this delight turned to disbelief when I realise that the planned city-wide consultation on catchment areas would deliberately exclude the question of Notre Dame Secondary’s girls-only admissions policy.

“For parents such as myself, in effect the city council is asking us to respond to a consultation on catchment areas without knowing all the relevant facts.

“In practical terms, we could find the catchment area of Notre Dame High School being drawn only for it to be subsequently redrawn a few months or year or two later. It is like being asked to vote for a political party with a manifesto where half the pages are missing.”

Mr Gould said he was aware of the challenges council faces in funding and resourcing, but that in this case feels they are ­‘fundamentally misguided’ and the current approach is ‘wasteful of both valuable people resources and council tax payer funds.’

“Quite simply, why run two consultations when you can run one?” he added. “Moreover, why run a consultation where the results of it could end up being materially altered a few months later by a second consultation? In the current climate of ­austerity, this does not strike me as good value for money.

He suggested the council might be hoping that their campaign ‘will go away so they don’t have to address the issue of gender discrimination currently practiced and indeed promoted in Glasgow by the city council and its elected councillors.’

“The city council has the opportunity to give families from across the city the right to be heard on this matter now and end the confusion and uncertainty which they have created.

“I can only hope that they exercise some common sense and do the right thing,” he added.


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