No placing requests at crowded schools

Knowetop Primary is one of the schools which is unlikely to accept placing requests.
Knowetop Primary is one of the schools which is unlikely to accept placing requests.

Education bosses are warning that space is so tight at 10 primary schools in the Motherwell area that all placing requests are likely to fail.

Extra temporary classrooms are being installed at two of the schools on the list in order to ease crowding.

The pressing situation was revealed to North Lanarkshire Council’s learning and leisure services committtee.

James McKinstry, head of education resources, told councillors that nearly a quarter of pupils in the council area attend a school which is not their local one.

That means 6,000 children are travelling outside their catchment area.

The council has now produced a list of schools which are either likely to be full or have to keep all places for pupils from the catchment area.

These include Knowetop, Ladywell, St Brendan’s and Muirhouse in Motherwell, New Stevenston, Holytown, St Patrick’s in New Stevenston, Christ the King in Holytown, Keir Hardie in Newarthill and Our Lady and St Francis in Carfin.

Parents will be told it’s “probable” that all placing requests for those schools will not be granted.

Two temporary classes will be built at the joint campus serving New Stevenston and St Patrick’s. Those new schools opened only 10 years ago, but the council says ongoing housebuilding in the area has led to pupil numbers increasing.

New Stevenston is just two pupils short of its 306 capacity while St Patrick’s, with a capacity of 168, currently has 162 pupils.

Ladywell, with 367 pupils against a capacity of 333, and Our Lady and St Francis (275/267) are already operating over capacity.

Committee convener Councillor Jim Logue said pressure on some schools is “severe”, adding: ““We’ll make sure parents are informed so they are aware of the potential for refusal, either this year or in future.

“This will help parents decide what is best for the whole family as there could be a situation where an older sibling is accepted this year but a younger sibling is refused in a future year. I’m sure parents would rather avoid this.”

On temporary classrooms, Councillor Logue said: “To manage capacity pressures and ensure there is adequate accommodation for catchment pupils we are introducing high quality modular units in some schools.

“These are a fraction of the cost of an extension and provide an excellent interim solution until the school population settles to determine the best long term solution.”