THE idea of catchment area changes which could bring an extra 600 pupils to Queen Anne High School is not something the school could cope with, according to one West Fife parent.
The mum, who did not wish to be named, claimed the school was already struggling to cope with its existing children and the thought of so many extra was something she didn’t think feasible.
“My son has been going down town since S1, he doesn’t even attempt to go in the dinner hall for his lunch because by the time they get served, there isn’t time to eat,” said the parent.
“It seems crazy. More pupils being put in and there already seems like they have staff shortages. It would be a nightmare. And they would have all these extra kids going into the town at lunchtime, they have got to think about that as well.”
Last month, the Press launched our Action for Schools campaign calling for all parents, teachers, politicians, councillors, Fife Council and the Scottish Government to work together to tackle the crisis facing West Fife schools NOW and ensure our kids continue to receive the best education they possibly can.
With 12,000 new homes due to be constructed in West Fife over the next 20 years, more and more pressure is expected to be placed on the already creaking education system. If nothing is done, there will be no high school places by 2021-22.
One of the ideas mooted to help solve this crisis has been a change to catchment areas however this is likely to cause overcrowding at Queen Anne High with potentially 600 more pupils added to the school roll.
The concerned Queen Anne parent said adding this number of children to the existing roll of around 1,400 was incomprehensible.
“I feel that, at the moment, the school is at saturation point to be honest. I genuinely don’t know how the school would cope. If you put 600 pupils in any of the schools in the area, they would all struggle. They need to build more high schools.
“I went along to the consultation meeting as I have also got a child in Primary five and I could be in a situation where I have one child at Queen Anne and another at Dunfermline High School. The woman said he may still get a place in Queen Anne as he has a brother there but then all his friends will be going to Dunfermline High.
“They then said the older one could go to Dunfermline High but that would mean him leaving his friends and moving when he would be doing his exams.
“They aren’t thinking about the pupils as individuals, they just make decisions without thinking about them.”
At the Scottish Parliament this week, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley called for more funding for schools to meet growing challenges.
Speaking in a debate on the Government draft budget, he said more cash was needed for teaching and learning.
He was also critical of Education Secretary John Swinney, who has suggested the creation of new regional education boards as a solution to increasing attainment in schools.
“John Swinney seems oblivious to what is staring him in the face – we need more financial resources going into support our children through teaching and learning,” said Mr Rowley.
“He can mess around with structures till Doomsday, he can pour out the rhetoric about empowering headteachers and parents, but the fact remains we need more money going into the classroom to support teaching and learning.
“I know that Mr Swinney visits schools and while I do not know what teachers tell him, I too have visited many schools and asked teachers what would be their priorities and consistently they say to me we need more classroom assistants, we need more support in the classroom with teaching and learning.
“So we need Government that will listen a bit more and we can start that process by listening to what teachers have to say.”
Mr Rowley called on the Finance Secretary to reintroduce a 50p top rate of income tax for the richest one per cent of society and for this money to be spent on education.