Parents at Scotland’s top-performing state school have mobilised to fight a controversial proposed deal between the school and a house builder.
Jordanhill School announced last week it was set to receive £1.6m from CALA Homes in return for including the developer’s 400-home estate at Jordanhill Park in its catchment area.
The school said £1m of the contribution would be used to fund a new sports building “fit for the 21st century”.
In return, the homes currently being built by Cala at its prestigious development on the former Jordanhill College campus would be fast-tracked onto the school’s priority List 1 waiting list, along with other properties currently on List 2.
The school, with a roll of just over 1,000, is already heavily over-subscribed, according to parents.
Almost 100 parents held a virtual meeting on Sunday evening via the Zoom platform when the Jordanhill Parents Action Group (JPAG) was formed.
More than 200 parents have since registered with the group.
They are outraged at what they say is a lack of proper consultation and at the timing of the announcement during the global coronavirus crisis.
Many of them highlighted the issue of the lack of school places during a protracted planning application process before Glasgow City Council gave the green light to Cala’s development two years ago.
Group spokesman Andrew Saunders said: “JPAG believe that it is unacceptable and inappropriate that the Board of Managers have tabled this proposal at this unprecedented time when the school’s community – parents and guardians, including many NHS staff, Key Workers and Furloughed Staff – are dealing with the Covid-19 world pandemic.
“The parents are extremely disappointed by the timing of this proposal.
“We are also concerned that we highlighted the issue of local school capacity to the city council during the planning approval process and we were ignored.
“This is why Section 75 Developer Contributions exist under the Planning Act, and the City Council and now the school have let the local communities down.
“We don’t need refurbished sports facilities – we need increased capacity and the developer of over 400 homes in the heart of our community should be paying for this in the same way they are in other communities.
“This proposal would just displace children from an established local community school to schools in surrounding communities which are already oversubscribed.”
Andrew said: “We are asking the school to pause these proposals to allow full and frank discussion with parents over what their priorities are for the school and community and how we can ensure there is a place for every child living in the area who wants one.
“The group are currently considering their options and at Sunday night’s meeting voted 100% in support of establishing a constitutional group representing Jordanhill Parents Action Group.
“At this stage we would ask the Board of Managers to suspend this proposal until after the current Pandemic to allow full and comprehensive consultation to be undertaken with the parents and members of the company.
“There is no need for this proposal to be ratified for the incoming academic year other than solely financial gain.
“Any amendments to the Admissions Regulations need to be considered and consulted and not determined solely by financial reward which the group feel significantly undervalues the worth of our school whilst perpetuating unresolved capacity issues.”
A spokesperson for Jordanhill School said: “The Board of Managers is very keen to provide as much information as possible to members in this open and transparent consultation, and to hear their views.
“The Board members are parents and local residents and understand fully the place that the school holds in the hearts of the community and the potential anxiety which arises at any thought of changes to the Admissions Regulations.
“The current Board, like all of its predecessors, is wedded to the principle that the school should seek to treat all residencies within its historic area on an equal basis. These proposals realise that ambition.
“In bringing forward this proposal, the Board of Managers’ intention is to provide an opportunity that both addresses historical concerns with the operation of the admissions regulations whilst simultaneously improving the school’s accommodation and facilities.
“The Board of Managers were also clear that a key consideration should be the potential benefits brought to the children of Jordanhill School.
“Having checked the waiting lists over the next 11 years, we cannot detect circumstances in which a child currently on List 1 will lose a place because of these changes.
“The Board has considered in detail the implications of local housing developments.
“It is important that the school and members address these now.
“Deferring that discussion will lead to ever more challenging issues in the future.”