South Lanarkshire defends roll capping to angry parents

8th May 1998 at 01:00
SOUTH Lanarkshire education department this week defended its decision to cap school rolls. But some parents are complaining of "heartbreak" for children denied a place at their local secondary and separated from their friends.

Donald Thomas, the head of educational finance and personnel, says the council has been forced to take action because the cumulative effect of placing requests over the years is now putting strains on school staffing and accommodation.

He highlighted the case of Stonelaw High in Rutherglen, where 100 placing requests have been rejected because the council could not afford to take on six extra staff. But he insisted the overall situation was not likely to be much different from previous years. The authority normally receives around 1,500 requests a year and rejects only 100.

David Watson, an SNP councillor in East Kilbride, said the roll capping could affect 1,000 pupils and the treatment of some parents and children had been "absolutely appaling". Mr Thomas called his claims "absolute rubbish". The two men were due to meet yesterday (Thursday).

Parents at Mossneuk Primary in East Kilbride feel particularly aggrieved. According to one, who did not wish to be named, the school told them there would be no problem with placing requests for Duncanrig Secondary, with which Mossneuk is zoned. The rejection of the applications came "like a bolt from the blue" last Friday, another parent said.

Some 23 placing requests had to be submitted for Duncanrig from Mossneuk pupils who live outside the catchment for the secondary. Only 12 were accepted. The remaining 11 "have seen their world collapse," one parent said.

The parents intend appealing and "going all the way" through the legal process if necessary. One said: "If I had any inkling this was going to happen I would have moved house into the catchment area. I've had no time to prepare my son for this. Now he is feeling isolated and victimised."

The 11 Mossneuk pupils face staying behind next week when the leavers spend a day getting acclimatised to their new first year at Duncanrig.

Mr Thomas said the council is trying to stabilise staffing to give continuity to pupils and teachers.

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