‘I want a hand-up ...not a handout’

Elaine Collier with son Rowan.
Elaine Collier with son Rowan.

FIFE’S education bosses have robustly defended their admissions policy amid claims by a Cupar mum that she’ll be forced into poverty if she has to pay for her son’s transport to school after he was refused a P1 place just a few minutes’ walk from home.

Elaine Colliar, of Bishopgate, contacted the Fife Herald after reading our front page story last week about a group of parents whose four-year-olds had not been given places at St Columba’s RC Primary, despite having siblings already at the school.

She says that she has now enrolled her five-year-old son Rowan at Dairsie Primary – but that’s a return journey of more than six miles that she cannot afford to pay for.

And she says she’s not prepared to send Rowan to Castlehill Primary because she alleges it has a culture of bullying.

‘Supersaver’ Ms Colliar (43), a single parent who achieved fame with her website mortgagefreeinthree.com, told the Fife Herald that it will cost her £120 a month in bus fares to send Rowan to Dairsie – £20 more than she has available for food each month.

Now she has contacted Brian Souter, of Stagecoach, in the hope that he may be able to help with the transport problem and, if it is not resolved by the time term starts in August, she intends to organise a march to Dairsie with other parents.

“I’m now in a position where I would be better off giving up my fledgling business and claiming benefits,” she said.

“But it is not in my nature to pass on my financial problems to someone else – I am looking for a hand-up, not a handout.

“It is unreasonable to expect a child of five to walk over six miles a day to and from school along a busy road, and Fife Council will not subsidise the bus fare.

“I can’t believe there is no provision for parents who just want the best education for their children.”

However, area education officer John McLaughlin said that 51 applications had been made for the 25 places available in P1 at St Columba’s, and that the admissions policy had been strictly adhered to when they were allocated.

He also roundly dismissed allegations of bullying at Castlehill, saying that it was one of Fife’s highest performing and most effective schools where anti-bullying policies were strictly implemented by staff.