Parents in three upmarket areas of Inverness could face a fight to get their children into local primary schools because of soaring pupil numbers.
A population boom in outlying areas of the Highland capital means rolls could be capped at Cradlehall, Lochardil and Inshes primaries within weeks.
Other schools need extra temporary classroom space – and some could get more permanent solutions.
Last night, one parent in the Inshes Primary catchment area said there was already concern about growing class sizes.
Carolyn Cload has two daughters, one at primary and the other in nursery.
She said: “My daughter is in P2 and there’s 29 in her class, which is quite big and not ideal.
“I know in some areas they cap class sizes much smaller but maybe that’s not possible.
“It’s a popular school and people do try to get placements but it wouldn’t be ideal to start thinking about capping.”
Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans said that some short-term measures would be necessary to cope – but said the local authority had to adopt a “proper sustainable plan” for the future.
He said: “We need to think long-term because there will be pressures on secondary schools. These pupils will be in the system somewhere so we really need to look long-term.
“It’s not good that we are in the position we are but we need to plan ahead.
“It’s not the best for parents but we are determined to provide the best service.”
Members of the education, children and adult service committee will be updated on the issue next week by the council’s director of care and learning Bill Alexander.
His report suggests that Merkinch and Smithton primaries are in need of imminent investment.
Muirtown and Kinmylies are also likely to require investment within the next 10 years.
And some classes at Inverness Gaelic School may need to be moved off site because of space pressures and accommodation at Inverness Royal Academy or Inverness Christian Centre could be used for teaching.
Inshes Primary is viewed as being under particular pressure for the next school year and beyond, with the roll expected to keep climbing beyond the next five years.
One potential solution is to use general purpose areas at nearby Milton of Leys primary as relief, although occupancy is expected to continue to rise there for the next five years.
Plans for a new primary at Ness Castle in the west of the Highland capital are being brought forward to cope with projected demand.
Councillor Alasdair Christie, chairman of the education, children and adult services committee, said: “The report identifies schools which are going to be under pressure next year – namely Cradlehall, Lochardil and Inshes as far as capping is concerned.
“There’s nothing changed as far as the timing is concerned. We’ve always asked parents to select their preferences by mid-March in previous years.
“It’s unprecedented. At one secondary school last year we had to draw names out of a hat.
“We are looking at the areas where there will be problems as much as we can see so we can plan for it.
“It’s mostly driven by housebuilding and population growth but there are other pressures.”
He added: “We are presenting the facts of the situation regularly and I would imagine fresh reports will be going before the education committee for the foreseeable future to keep members and the public informed.”