28 September 2021

SNP Cllrs Conaghan and Dickson who are promoting the primary school admission policies but refuse to reveal to The Democrat what these are.

Council updates admission and placing request policy – but keeps it quiet

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire Council has updated its admission and placing request policy to offer a fairer and clearer process for families.

However, there have been no moves – at least not in public – to end the segregation of pupils on religious grounds.

Or to guarantee parents a place for their children in the school nearest to their home. Or to tell the public what has been considered unfair up to now.

Members of Educational Services Committee have agreed to change the undisclosed existing policy after receiving feedback from a range of stakeholders including parents and carers following a consultation.

The update includes a review of the current criteria used to allocate places where there are more requests for a place within a school than  spaces available.

Existing criteria in relation to single parents, and siblings have been expanded – again there are no details – and other criteria have been revised to ensure the criteria requirement is clear.

However, the council who have in their annual report boasted about their good communications and adherence to openness and transparency in all they do have given no details of the changes and refuse to speak to The Democrat about them.

Families who apply for a place at a denominational school and whose children have been baptised in the Catholic Church will be offered a place ahead of a child who is not baptised in the Catholic Church.  

If placing requests cannot be accommodated  using the placing request criteria, a ballot will take place and parents and carers will be invited to be present during the ballot.

This would indicate that some parents are so concerned about the way the system operates at present that they want to observe personally that everything is fair and above board.

Primary school children in Balloch where the “campus” is divided into two schools, one “non denominational ” and one Catholic.

The council refuse to answer valid questions including whether children who attend the same class in nursery school in Balloch are split on religious denominational grounds.

In a typically bland statement, Councillor Karen Conaghan, Convener of Educational Services, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation and for giving us their feedback which has helped us update this important policy.

“We can see from the feedback that the majority of people supported every criteria and the addition of parents being present in person for any future ballots.

“We are committed to supporting families wherever we can and this updated policy will ensure it’s a fair process for everyone.”

However the council, following a diktat by SNP council leader Jonathan McColl, has given no details about this “important policy” and how it has been changed.

And nor has her SNP colleague, Councillor Ian Dickson, vice convener of Educational Services, who said: “These changes will take effect for the August 2022 intake and will make the process of enrolling children within the chosen school straightforward.

“We will make every effort to accommodate all placing requests, and where we cannot support a request, we have clear guidance in place to support families through the process.”


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