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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 14:50 GMT
Drop in school placing requests
Primary school boys
Almost 90% of primary school requests were granted

The number of requests from parents who do not want to send their child to their local school has fallen by 5%.

New figures show that 28,645 requests were made last year for children to be placed in schools outside their local catchment area.

Despite the fall in requests, about one fifth of primary one pupils started their education at a school which they would not automatically attend.

The proportion of requests granted remained steady at about 85%.

Requests for places at specific primary schools were still the most popular, accounting for 63% of the total, with 88% of requests granted.

Placing requests for primary one pupils represented 22% of the total school roll, while the figure for those starting secondary school stood at 13%.

School constraints

About 79% of parents who asked for their child to go to a secondary school outside the catchment area were given permission to do so.

Parental requests for a child to attend the primary school of their choice were particularly high in Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, Dundee, South Ayrshire and East and West Dunbartonshire.

Secondary school requests were most commonly made in Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow.

Staffing and accommodation constraints were the most common reason for requests being denied, while others were refused because places were being held for children moving into the area.

Imposing class size reductions will put added financial and administrative burdens on schools and local authorities
Liz Smith
Conservative MSP

According to Judith Gillespie of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, politicians should be honest with parents, explaining that the policy allows them only the right to express their preference, not complete choice.

"If there is no room the request will be rejected and that can lead to disappointment," she said.

But she claimed that parents were often better served by local schools than they realised.

"A lot of people look at school performance only in terms of exam results but the inspector's report can reveal teachers with an imaginative and energetic approach who would create a good learning environment for any child," she added.

Liz Smith MSP, Tory spokeswoman for children, schools and skills, said she did not understand why, if the number of requests had fallen, the percentage granted had not risen accordingly.

And she said the proposed reduction in primary one to three classes would exacerbate the problem.

"The Scottish Conservatives have been concerned for some time that imposing class size reductions will put added financial and administrative burdens on schools and local authorities and this is almost certainly going to impact on the ability of parents to get their child into a school of their choice," she added.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: "We support the rights of parents to express a preference for a particular school, but are pleased that the number of parents wishing to do so has reduced by 5% this year."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Parent explains why she picked a non-local school



SEE ALSO
Local schools need to win faith
18 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Schools limit 'outsider' places
15 Feb 08 |  Tayside and Central
Pupil placing requests top 30,000
20 Mar 07 |  Scotland
Rethink on school appeals system
10 Nov 06 |  Scotland

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