Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Council loses school legal fight

Lord Uist criticised East Renfrewshire's recent catchment consultation

A father who took a council to court over school catchment areas has won the right to send his daughter to a top-performing Catholic secondary.

Robert Bowie's home is in Glasgow but his daughter Blaire's primary school feeds pupils to St Ninian's High school in nearby East Renfrewshire.

A judge said East Renfrewshire Council had stretched its own rules to keep Blaire, 11, out of St Ninian's.

Lord Uist also criticised the council's recent catchment areas consultation.

St Ninian's, one of the best performing school in Scotland, has more than 1,700 pupils.

East Renfrewshire Council said the popular school was overcrowded and it has been looking at ways of reducing its intake of pupils.

Most St Angela's pupils got to St Ninian's despite the primary school lying outside the East Renfrewshire boundary.

There has been an agreement that children from homes within a delineated area around the school will be accepted at St Ninian's.

Blaire Bowie's parents stay in an area, Parkholm Gardens, which was built after delineated area was put in place at the break-up of the former Strathclyde Regional Council in the mid-90s.

'Delineated area'

This means that it is not on a list of streets which gives pupils the right to an automatic place at St Ninian's.

When East Renfewshire Council wrote to Mr Bowie refusing a place for his daughter at the school of their choice, he raised an action for judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Lord Uist said the issue was whether what current regulations describe as the "delineated area" for St Angela's should be seen as a geographical area on a map or a list of streets.

In a written ruling, the judge said: "It seems to me that East Renfrewshire Council have sought to give a far-fetched and strained meaning to that term (delineated area) by contending that it denotes a list of streets."

Lord Uist said he would have thought the meaning of "delineated area" was "self-evident."

Last October, East Renfrewshire began moves to take the area associated with St Angela's out of the automatic catchment area for St Ninian's.

Mr Bowie argued that such a change needed proper consultation, including seeking views of parents.

He claimed that because the council stuck by their "list of streets" policy their consultation exercise was fundamentally flawed.

Lord Uist made an order overturning East Renfrewshire Council's October decision to carry out a consultation.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesman said: "We have received the judgement and are considering it."

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