A PROPOSAL to begin consultation to re-zone the catchment area of two Dunfermline primary schools will be considered by Fife councillors today (Thursday).

If given the go-ahead, statutory consultation for changes to admissions affecting Carnegie and Touch primaries will start in October.

The move comes as Carnegie Primary continues to burst at the seams with there being no scope to extend amid further housebuilding in the area.

A report to councillors from education chief Carrie Lindsay said it was a "geographic imperative" that the catchment area was realigned to allow those children living in the catchment area to go to their local school.

She said Carnegie Primary was continuing to operate above the maximum occupancy while Touch Primary was currently operating at around 57 per cent of capacity.

"To resolve these catchment anomalies and to ensure that new housing developments can be, as far as possible, zoned to one primary school catchment area, a proposal has been formulated to re-zone the catchment areas," explained Ms Lindsay.

"It was concluded that the recommendation within the proposal should be that the primary catchment areas of Carnegie Primary School and Touch Primary School should be re-zoned to ensure that sufficient capacity is available across the area to respond to the challenges of new developments and to ensure the school estate is sufficient in size to manage the pupil demand."

The altered areas would see almost all of the pupils in the Touch Primary catchment remain in the same zone apart from some housing to the east of South Larch Road in The Heathers Wynd, South Larch Way and South Larch Lane.

They would be changed to Carnegie Primary to allow pupils to attend school with their immediate neighbours.

The postcodes identified in the proposal will ensure that the houses furthest away from Carnegie – such as Shearwater Crescent/Osprey Crescent – will be zoned to the closer Touch Primary.

"Although the rationale for the proposal is based on the existing over-occupancy of Carnegie Primary School, due to new housing within the catchment area it is prudent to manage the catchment areas across all our schools based on the inclusion of new housing developments, the proximities to local schools and to consider long-term management of the school estate," added Ms Lindsay.

"Failure to manage the school catchment area of Carnegie Primary School, in relation to new developments, would exacerbate the existing capacity problem at the school.

"It is a geographic imperative that the catchment area is realigned to allow those children living in the catchment area the opportunity to attend their catchment school.

"If the catchment area were to remain as it currently stands, the Education Service would be unable to accommodate all pupils entitled to a catchment place at Carnegie Primary School.

"This would result in the oversubscription of pupils for the number of places on offer each year."

Ms Lindsay admitted re-zoning could lead to additional stress for families but placement requests could help resolve issues.

"A situation may arise that a sibling of a child currently attending Carnegie Primary School no longer has an automatic entitlement to attend the same primary school as their older sibling if the re-zoning proposal is approved," she conceded.

"However, the Education Service will continue to adhere to the priority criteria within the admissions policy where a child living at the same household address as their sibling is given a higher priority (following pupils with ASN), than if the non-catchment school is closer to the home address than the catchment school and childcare/parent’s working arrangements.

"For parents of pupils living with in the Carnegie Primary School catchment area, there will be greater certainty that their children will be able to be accommodated within their catchment primary school with the rest of their peer group from their community."

If councillors agree to recommendations that the proposals go out for statutory consultation, discussions with interest parties will begin next month.

The official consultation period will include meetings in Carnegie Primary – on October 26 – and at Touch Primary – on November 1 – as well as several drop-in sessions.

Consultation will close on December 1 and a report would then be submitted to Education Scotland with a decision from Fife Council's education cabinet likely in March.