Anger over cap on Falkirk school numbers

St Bernadette's opened in 2011
St Bernadette's opened in 2011
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Parents have slammed a council admission policy after it cost their children a place at a new school.

St Bernadette’s RC Primary in Stenhousemuir, which opened last year, received 43 applications for pupils looking to begin P1 classes in August.

But Falkirk Council has imposed a cap of 30 spaces at the school in an effort to avoid future overcrowding at St Mungo’s RC High, where most St Bernadette’s pupils would be expected to move after completing their primary education.

Members of the policy and resources committee last year agreed that a maximum of 240 pupils should be in each year group at the high school.

That means that 13 children will have to attend other schools - including eight that currently attend St Bernadette’s nursery, which shares a campus with the primary.

Emma Small, whose son Kayden is a pupil at the nursery, said she was shocked when his application to make the step up to primary one was rejected.

She said: “I wanted Kayden to join the nursery so he had the opportunity to make friends before he began school the following year. Instead, he’ll have to leave behind his friends and find another school.

“Why have they allowed so many kids to attend the nursery when it’s clear they knew that would not all be guaranteed a place at the primary?”

The decision to impose a cap of 30 pupils has infuriated parents given that St Bernadette’s was built with a capacity of 217, yet it currently only has 130 children on its roll - an occupancy rate of 60 per cent.

Another parent, Olivia Azevedo, said: “St Bernadette’s is a brand new, publicly funded school that is being under-used.

“This is causing great upset not only for the parents that chose that school because it’s in their children’s best interests, but for the children that now have to be told 
that they are not allowed to go to the same school as their brothers and sisters.”

Andrew Sutherland, education director at Falkirk Council, said: “The capping policy is designed to ensure that we are able to manage our responsibility to have available places for baptised Roman Catholic pupils in their local catchment area denominational primary school and longer term at St Mungo’s High School as per 
our legislative require-ment.”