FIFE Council has admitted that names were “pulled from a hat” to decide which children got a nursery place at Duloch Primary School in Dunfermline.

A document sent to a West Fife parent confirmed the practice and the local authority said it resorts to pot luck when there is no other way of allocating slots for specific sessions.

The mum, who did not want to be named, contacted the Press to raise concerns about how spaces are given out after she feared she would need to take a career break because she had not been able to get her son into Duloch nursery.

She said: “People going to Masterton and Carnegie are getting places at Duloch nursery and people who will actually go to the school aren’t.

“Category four is what we are and is what the majority of people are.

“So when they have allocated places to people further up the list, that is when they put everyone in a hat and pull out names.”

In an effort to be able to stay in her job, she had applied for two full days of childcare at the facility, however this was knocked back which meant she faced a morning school run where her three children would need to be each dropped off at three different places.

The parent was relieved to hear this week that an appeal against the decision had been successful and she would now be able to send her son to the nursery where her elder son already goes to school.

During her efforts to ascertain exactly why the original application had been unsuccessful, the Dunfermline mum was told: “All applications are given a priority in-line with the admissions policy.

“In the case of Duloch applications, all those from Priority 4 onwards were balloted i.e. the names of the Priority 4 pupils were pulled from a hat.

“Those names pulled first were allocated a place until all available places were allocated.”

The shocked mum said: “They don’t look at who will go to that primary school or anything like that. Research shows that children who go to the nursery attached to the school come out with better outcomes. It is an easier transition if they move with their peers and have more familiarity.

“I met with the MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, and she said the policy is ludicrous and she wants to get it changed herself.”

A Fife Council spokesperson admitted that spaces were pulled out of a hat – but stressed that this was because the family had applied for two days of childcare instead of the five morning or afternoon places.

“Because she wanted the two days rather than over the five days, there are only some nurseries that offer that in Fife so these spaces are open to anyone in the area,” said the spokesperson.

“These spaces don’t come down to catchment and they then have to be decided through different categories or criteria. Once they have got to a stage where the people are all at the same level, these names are drawn out of a hat because it is the only fair way to do it.

“It is not a ballot system like this for the ordinary catchment area hours.”