East Ren faces key vote on bid to cope with soaring demand for RC education

East Renfrewshire education direction Mhairi Shaw.
East Renfrewshire education direction Mhairi Shaw.

Parents of pupils seeking a place in an East Ren Catholic school will have a better chance of success if they can produce an RC baptism certificate for the child.

That is the likely outcome of a vote set to take place on December 20, when the RC certificate question is the most high profile among a raft of proposals covering all East Ren schools to be considered.

The move has been mooted for many years, and if approved would be applied in cases where – as is increasingly likely – there are more applicants than available places for a particular school.

The move will dismay some non-RC families who until now have assumed that being resident in East Renfrewshire was the main qualification needed for admission to a school such as St Ninian’s secondary.

However where families have a child already at the school, and younger siblings hoping to join them, the baptismal stipulation won’t be applied for another two years – lessening the chance of brothers and sisters being split between different schools.

The council’s education director, Mhairi Shaw, said: “Over recent years the number of East Renfrewshire families choosing a Roman Catholic education for their children has increased by around one fifth and many of these schools are in fact either at or approaching full capacity.

“We have already taken action to address increased demand at our schools by creating additional accommodation, increasing teacher numbers and classes where necessary and are also in the process of investing £77.6 million over the next three years to provide even more new and extended education facilities.”

She added: “However despite these significant measures, the rate at which demand is now increasing means these actions will still not provide the capacity needed to meet the appetite for Roman Catholic school places in future years.

“We also know that we have space in our very high performing non-denominational schools in the council area and as such we must seek to use all available capacity across our full school estate to achieve a fair and equitable solution and best value for the public purse.

“As more families want a place at a Roman Catholic school for their children it is essential that we either create more capacity for Roman Catholic education or change admissions arrangements for our existing schools.”

There will be more on this important local education story in the forthcoming edition of the Extra.