Midlothian Council will not introduce catchment areas for nurseries, despite an appeal by local mums to bring them into line with schools.
At last week’s full council meeting, councillors heard that in 2011 Midlothian Council raised the issue of catchment areas with COSLA, but this was not supported across Scotland. It was also pointed out that the Scottish Government made it clear when implementing the change to 600 hours of free early learning and childcare as set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 that flexibility was expected. Not having catchment areas increases that flexibility.
As reported in The Advertiser last month, a group of Bonnyrigg mums calling for nursery catchment areas set up a petition to put pressure on the council to change the policy. Now one of them, Kayleigh Morris (28), has spoken of her disappointment.
She said: “I just think they are letting down the local children. They talk about it being parental choice but it’s not really giving everyone a choice. It’s basically a lottery.
“I think there are a lot of catchment children who can’t get a place at their local nursery. Only 70 per cent of the class at Lasswade are from the catchment.
“There is not much we can do now as they are not budging. But I will keep fighting. We are going to try and continue but I don’t see it making a difference. It’s a shame.”
Speaking at the meeting Councillor Ian Baxter (Green) said: “If we want to cut down the amount of traffic on our streets we have to build that in to the design of everything we think about and this is an example of that I feel.
“I’ve had constituents come to me and say that there are problems, particularly at Lasswade Primary School, because it has so many children, and so many nursery children as well as primary, that come from outside the catchment area.
“I’m not convinced that we shouldn’t have catchment areas for nurseries. At the moment one aspect of it is people dropping off their children and I think it is something we shouldn’t lose sight of.”