WEST FIFE parents should brace themselves for more uncertainty as a decision on school catchment areas is now likely to be put off until next year.

Education chiefs will tell members of Fife Council’s education and children’s services committee next Tuesday that the earliest date for any changes to be implemented will be August 2019.

They were sent back to the drawing board at last month’s committee meeting when councillors decided not to go ahead with statutory consultation on proposed changes to secondary school catchment areas in Dunfermline.

They instead asked for an alternative proposal paper which would look at re-zoning addresses within the Tulliallan, Torryburn, Limekilns, Canmore, Pitreavie and Commercial Primary catchment areas only.

Plans to move Masterton Primary School’s catchment to Inverkeithing were dismissed and education services were asked to come up with a new solution to resolve capacity issues at Woodmill High School.

As highlighted through the Press’ Action for Schools campaign, which was launched in January, the housing boom in Dunfermline means the council is faced with a ticking time bomb as Woodmill High is due to reach capacity by next summer.

The original proposals to reduce the size of its catchment area were seen as the short-term solution where boundaries were re-drawn to zone pupils to other high schools.

In her report for next Tuesday’s meeting, executive and children’s services’ executive director Carrie Lindsay said their previous proposal was the “most robust approach” to achieving the aim of addressing the capacity risk at Woodmill High School from August 2018.

“The practical implication of not consulting on this specific aspect of the proposal at this stage is we will not have a solution to Woodmill becoming oversubscribed in August 2018,” states Ms Lindsay.

“This ultimately means a greater degree of uncertainty for a much larger group of people, year upon year.”

“The aspect that went to the heart of reducing the capacity issue at Woodmill in August 2018 was the re-zoning of the Masterton catchment area to Inverkeithing.

"Officers consider that it is not possible to simply remove this individual proposed change and progress with an amended version.”

The report says it was clear that no proposal to change the catchment areas of the four secondary schools could be consulted upon, agreed and actioned by August 2018.

The additional time will also allow Fife Council to determine if there is any alternative to resolving capacity issues at Woodmill High.

The council’s admission policy means pupils on the outer edge of the catchment area are now more likely to be affected and there will be no guarantee nor assurance that siblings will be able to attend the same school.

“As matters stand, most of these people will not have taken part in the engagement sessions as they would have not thought themselves likely to be impacted,” explains the report.

“Therefore, the service believes that the officers need to dedicate time, in the immediate term, to supporting those children and families through the enrolment process for August 2018.”

Any new proposals are likely to come before the education and children’s services committee in January with the first round of consultation expected to begin on January 31 and any final decision to be made in August.