New bid to keep Fife siblings at same nursery and ‘lottery’ of ballot system
Young children with siblings at primary school could soon be prioritised for admission to neighbouring nurseries under plans tabled by a Labour councillor.
Parents will be consulted on a proposal brought forward by Dunfermline North's Helen Law that would see nursery-age children sorted into the same schools as their older siblings if it has an attached childcare facility.
As well as keeping families together, Cllr Law says the move could end the "lottery" of the ballot system that can see older and younger siblings split up, often several miles apart.
"If you have a school with a nursery attached, you would make the assumption that you could send all of your children there," Cllr Law said.
"We need to start making decisions based on circumstances. People aren't there to serve our organisation - we're there to serve them, and the ballot system doesn't serve anybody."
At present, nursery places are allocated to children on a priority basis, across six different categories.
Children deferring entry into P1 are allocated first, followed by those with additional support needs; those with siblings in the same nursery; other children in the local area; others from further afield in Fife; and those from outside Fife who may live closer to a Kingdom nursery than one in their own council area.
Cllr Law's plans would see children with older siblings included in the third category and given the same precedence as kids with brothers and sisters in nursery.
Education chiefs say that favouring children with older siblings and scrapping the ballot would put hundreds of others at risk of not being admitted to nursery and rob dozens of parents of their first choice.
However, Cllr Law says the issue will become more apparent due to growing demand for childcare places, due to the Scottish Government's pledge to give every child 1,140 hours of free care each year - or 30 hours a week during term time.
"We should have enough places to be able to look at circumstances and address and work out what will work for folk," she added.
Cllr Law's proposals were agreed at an education committee meeting.