Changes to school placing requests

editorial image

Parents who have to place a request for their child to attend a school outwith their catchment area will no longer have the right to meet with teaching staff but North Lanarkshire Council insist this will make the process quicker.

The learning and leisure services committee backed a move this week to remove the right of a parent to meet with a senior education department official, the school headteacher and a council solicitor.

The SNP group opposed the removal of the key stage in the appeals process on school parents requests but their motion was defeated 15 to 8.

Councillor Tom Johnston said: “This is not some archaic right past its sell-by date.

“This was an innovative new right, approved in 2006 by this same committee.

“Removal of this stage will cause bitterness among parents.”

Councillor Johnston added: “We claim the child is central in education and we have a new Children’s Charter.

“But here we see the removal of a process which can help determine a child’s schooling for five years.

“Leaving it all to an appeals committee comprising the same councillors who set the policy will not satisfy parents. “With closures and amalgamations of schools and with legally smaller primary one classes,there is less scope for placing requests to overwhelm council staff.”

James McKinstry, head of resources at North Lanarkshire Council, says the change to the process will hopefully speed up the system.

He explained: “In each year of the past two years, we have receive nearly 1500 placing requests and the vast majority of children are successful in getting into the school of their choice.

“Where a placing request is submitted and there is space in the receiving school and we do not need to employ extra staff, the request is granted.

“A common complaint is that we take too long to process applications and notify applicants of the appeals process.

“The current system can result in the council still dealing with appeals, days before the start of the new term.”

He added: “By removing this unnecessary part of the process, we are hopeful of speeding up the system allowing parents more time to prepare their child for the first exciting and important year in their education and giving certainty for the purchase of school blazers etc.

“We are confident the process will be simpler and less stressful for parents and children as we move forward and it brings us into line with other councils in Scotland.”