Falkirk parents back plan to cap pupil levels

St Mungo's High

St Mungo's High

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A shake-up of the admissions policy at St Mungo’s High has been welcomed by parents and the Roman Catholic Church.

Their support for plans to cap the annual intake at 240 has cleared the way for the changes to be introduced from August next year.

A consultation exercise attracted feedback from 176 individuals, including parents and staff, and won 81 per cent backing.

All five parent councils, the community council and the church said they were 100 per cent behind the proposal to introduce firmer controls.

Falkirk Council’s education committee was told on Tuesday they were needed to avoid the “very serious” risk of St Mungo’s facing over capacity issues within five years and make sure that in the future spaces can be reserved for Catholic pupils at Falkirk’s only denominational high school.

Since 2001 the school roll has surged from 800 to nearly 1350 pupils.

After it was rebuilt three years ago it opened with an increased capacity of 1433 compared to 1263 at the old school but demand is so high it could exceed acceptable occupancy levels by 2017 if nothing is done now.

Education bosses have agreed Catholic pupils living in villages over five miles from the nearest denominational primary school and attend their local non-denominational primary as a result will keep the right to join St Mungo’s without their parents having to make a placing request.

Parents of pupils currently at non-denominational primaries who already have brothers and sisters at St Mungo’s will also be given priority for the next four years although they may have to pay for their children to travel on the school bus.

The proposed change will require parents to chose the non-denominational or denominational stream for their children at the primary 1 stage or when they move into the council area and give up the current option of changing stream when they switch to secondary education.

This will mean:

lPupils wishing to transfer from non-denominational primaries to St Mungo’s making a placing request;

lPupils wishing to transfer to St Mungo’s from a denominational primary where they were enrolled by means of a placing request, making a further placing request;

lPupils wishing to transfer from a denominational primary to a non-denominational secondary making a placing request.

Education experts insist the vast majority making the switch from either primary stream to the associated secondary will be unaffected by the policy change.

Richard Teed, senior forward planning officer, said: “Because it affects the entire council area the consultation was extensive but the majority of those who responded agreed with the proposals. There was overwhelming support.”

Provost Pat Reid said: “A very good exercise has been carried out and we are now ready to move forward.”

The recommended changes will be put to the council’s policy and resources committee for approval later this month. Placing requests for St Mungo’s for August 2013 will be accepted from December 6 and approved by the end of next April.