Crisis fears over school intake

BARNHILL Primary School looks to be heading towards an “intake crisis” as fears rise over a surplus of top-priority new pupils in August.

Councillor Rod Wallace has expressed concern that his repeated warnings to the education department over rising pressure on Barnhill due to a housing increase have gone unheeded.

He added that he had been told the situation was kept under observation but that plans in 2003 to add a £5 million extension to the school had never gone ahead.

Councillor Wallace has now heard from many parents in the area who are anxious that the August intake this year will be excessive.

There are 79 ‘category one’ pupils who are due to start at Barnhill this summer despite the fact the school only has a notional capacity for an intake of 66.

These pupils live inside the catchment area of the school and should therefore be guaranteed a place.

Should the SNP Government’s plans to reduce class sizes to 25 pupils go ahead, this would mean that Barnhill would have 29 pupils over the limit if there were two primary one classes.

If Barnhill created three classes instead if two then the school would only be four over the limit but there may not be enough space to accommodate this.

Parents were told at a meeting with the headteacher that not all of their children would be admitted for the 2011/12 session.

It is now believed that some difficult decisions will have to be made and it may come down to measuring which children live closest to the school with those furthest away being disappointed.

Mr Wallace also fears that the provisional number of new intakes could still rise as the deadline for admission applications has not yet arrived.

Pupils could still come forward through an appeals system and the council are legally required to honour it.

Dundee had previously allowed a number of new housing developments north of Broughty Ferry thinking at the time the local schools would be able to cope with the rise of pupils but it is now clear that they are struggling.

Councillor Wallace said: “It is clear that Dundee City Council have no Plan B.

“If this trend of increase in intakes continues then there is no Plan B to cope with that.

“I have a meeting arranged for Monday morning where I will discuss this with the director of education.

“I will also discuss the concerns and feedback which I have received from my constituents.”