Plans to shake-up an Aberdeen secondary school’s catchment zone by closing the door on rural pupils have been thrown out.
Cults Academy is rapidly reaching capacity, with further major housing developments in the pipeline.
Earlier this year, Aberdeen City Council launched a consultation on plans to revise the catchment area to create more room – but the move would have prevented rural youngsters from going to the school, even if it was the one closest to them.
Children at Lairhillock Primary are currently split into two zones, with those living in the north of the village going to Cults Academy and those in the south going to Mackie Academy in Stonehaven.
Under the city council’s proposals, all the pupils would have been rezoned for Stonehaven – even if their siblings were already at Cults.
Yesterday, members of the city council’s education and children’s services committee agreed to scrap the plans, after hearing concerns about increased journey times, the knock-on effect they would have on Aberdeenshire’s own already busy schools, and the inconvenience of having children at two different schools.
Councillor Martin Greig, who is on the committee, said: “There’s a lot of pressure from the community, and there have been genuine concerns for the future of Cults Academy in terms of overpopulation, especially with the amount of new building that is going on around Cults, Milltimber and South Deeside.
“Parents were naturally also concerned during the course of consultation exercises that Lairhillock could be removed from the catchment area.
“There was a great deal of participation in the consultation process and I am very pleased that the council has decided to keep Lairhillock in the Cults Academy zone, it’s going to stay as the status quo.”
Last year the total number of pupils attending Cults Academy was 1,055, including 60 pupils from the Lairhillock catchment area. The academy’s total capacity is 1,141.
Councillor Isobel Davidson, chairwoman of Aberdeenshire Council’s education committee, welcomed the decision.
She said: “I think it’s a very good compromise. We had public meetings and I think parents were very clear that they wanted their children to go to Cults Academy, because that’s where they had selected when they bought their houses in Lairhillock.
“I’m very pleased that this is the solution the city council has come up with, because it allows the children who are living in the area to go to Cults Academy with their older siblings.”