Baptismal scheme set to proceed

St Ninians pupils
St Ninians pupils

Education chiefs are set to back a scheme that will fast-track pupils seeking admission to a local RC school if they have a baptismal certificate.

The plan follows years of resistance to the idea by some parents, notably in Glasgow, who have argued the practice – followed by some other councils – is discriminatory.

In a recent consultation on the proposals nearly three quarters of 1,700 responses backed the idea.

However pupils are split in the issue, as when the same questions were asked in East Ren schools just 54 per cent backed the scheme.

In what some see as an important concession the council will delay introduction of the restriction for two years in cases where a child seeking a place at an RC school has one or more siblings already at the school.

This is to mitigate the situation where children from the same family could otherwise have to go to different schools.

The new set-up follows years of acrimonious debate over how East Ren should run its admissions policy.

St Ninian’s high school has regularly faced the threat of over-subscription because of its high rate of achievement and soaring popularity.

A major and highly public argument erupted eight years ago when pupils at Glasgow primary schools which had acted as feeder primaries for St Ninian’s lost their automatic right to a placement.

Angry public meetings were packed to capacity as Glasgow parents vented their fury on education chiefs.

However the idea of making admission dependent primarily on a baptismal certificate was at that stage knocked back, amid claims that the concept was discriminatory and divisive.

Now RC pupils living in East Ren will be given clear priority on admissions, and although pupils of other faiths or none can still apply, as can pupils outwith East Ren, pressure on places greatly reduces their chances of gaining a place.

The broad proposals covering all schools, denominational and non-denominational, on December 20, and if approved will only apply to new applicants to primary and secondary schools from January.

Meanwhile the council has said it will continue fight attempts to obtain a place in East Ren schools (denominational or non-denominational) by fraud – and will refer cases to the fiscal if necessary.