CONCERN has been voiced that children living in the Stichill and Ednam areas are being denied places at the local nursery because they have been filled up by children not living in the catchment area for Ednam Primary School.
TheSouthern understands that several members of the Ednam, Stichill and Berrymoss Community Council have expressed concern over the situation. The nursery at Ednam is accommodated in the village primary school.
One angry resident, who did not wish to be named, told us: “I don’t believe it is right that a Stichill child is offered a place in a nursery at Sprouston because Ednam is full.
“Ednam is certainly not full of Ednam and Stichill children. I hope that there is a place in Ednam when the child comes of school age.
“Because if a child from outwith the Ednam catchment area manages to get a place at the nursery, then its parents have a lever to get them into Ednam school at the possible expense of a local child and that, to me, is a great shame.”
Asked for its views, a spokesman for Scottish Borders Council (SBC) confirmed to TheSouthern that the nursery at Ednam is full.
“Unlike schools, there are no specific catchment areas for nursery classes. Our current policy states: ‘There are no defined catchment areas for pre-school settings and a parent can choose whichever setting is most appropriate for their child.”
The SBC member for Ednam and Stichill is Alastair Hutton, who says he recently received three identical letters expressing concerns about the nursery situation – albeit containing the names of different children.
“Two of the letters were from mothers in Stichill and the third was from one in Ednam and they were all complaining their children couldn’t get into the nursery at Ednam,” Councillor Hutton told TheSouthern this week.
“I asked the department [SBC education department] about this and it seemed that all of these children were three years old, which makes them ante-pre-school age and not pre-school nursery age.”
According to SBC, Borders nurseries run by the local authority do not have catchment areas because not every school has a nursery attached to it.
Councillor Hutton continued: “Because these three children were not pre-school nursery age, I am afraid they were pretty low in the pecking order when it came to places.
“But the idea of giving nursery places to kids who are going to go to the local primary school seems to be sensible.
“It would be a shame if kids of pre-school nursery age were being denied places because they were being given to younger children.
“It is a sensitive and delicate matter. I think a little campaign is being started by somebody looking to put pressure on.
“But I feel nursery places should go to the kids who benefit most.
“I would be more concerned if the nursery at Ednam was being filled up with children from Galashiels, for example, who were unlikely to go to the local primary school afterwards.
“As long as the children at the nursery live within striking distance of Ednam, I think it is reasonable for them to have places in the nursery.
“But it is certainly a difficult issue.”