Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Big Issue in Scotland: Law flaw fuels school places war

The Big Issue in Scotland reports: The Scottish Government is being urged to close a class sizes loophole allowing an “explosion” in parents trying to squeeze their children into popular schools.

Parents are forcing local education authorities to ignore Holyrood guidance on class size limits of 25, with more and more catching on to the fact the only legally binding maximum size is 30. One legal expert said he expected the number of parents appealing rejected placement requests to “flourish”.

Solicitor Iain Nisbet, head of education law at the Govan Law Centre, said pressure to cut class sizes is the main reason councils are turning down placement requests. “We’ve certainly seen an increase in calls since last year from parents whose placing request has been refused and are interested in their . The problem is that some councils are trying to achieve the end result of smaller class sizes by effectively keeping the parent in the dark about whether the school is actually full or not.”

Nisbet predicted there would be a “flourish of appeals” from parents willing to take their case all the way to the Sherriff courts in the summer. “Usually we see between five and ten, but I suspect we’ll see a few more this year.”

The problem is not restricted to heavily populated areas. In the Scottish Highlands, Ivan and Shirley Macleod recently won a recent appeal to get their daughter a place a Hillhead Primary in Wick, after the total P1 class size was set at 25. Mrs Macleod said the council had put the family “to hell and back”.

The full story is available on the Big Issue in Scotland website.

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