Parents opposed to plans to launch a new school within an existing Elgin primary have claimed their worst fears are already coming true.
Moray Council has lodged plans adapt East End Primary to temporarily accommodate pupils assigned to a new school while it is being built in the south of the town.
It is hoped the move would ease the pressure on New Elgin Primary – the town’s busiest school – until the new facility is built.
But parents of youngsters at East End Primary – which is expected to double in size in the next five years – fear it will cause chaos and have a negative impact.
And last night they pointed to the school’s plummeting registration figures for this year’s primary one intake as proof that their concerns are well-founded.
The argument was downplayed last night by one council education chief, who accused parents of “grasping at straws” in an effort to stymie the plans.
The concerned parents, however – who also believe the changes will displace a learning support base and force pupils to be cramped together in new classrooms – insist they are right.
A spokeswoman for the parent council, who have mounted a campaign to discourage the authority from moving forward with the proposals, said: “This is exactly what we all feared would happen.
“We said this would have an adverse impact on East End and would make the school less appealing to parents.
“Registration numbers are down, and we believe that many parents have been put off registering their children at East End due to the prospect of two schools sharing the same facilities.
“And if we had to scrap our support base, that would be a huge loss.”
But last night the vice-chairman of Moray Council’s children and young people’s services committee, George Alexander, said those worries were “completely irrational”.
Last year, Moray Council forecast ballooning school rolls across the region and enacted a string of measures to stave off a capacity crisis.
East End, which houses roughly 200 pupils at present is expected to see that figure double by 2021.
However, headteacher Gail McIntosh has recently contacted parents to inform them that anticipated intake this August is actually lower than in the past two years.
Mr Alexander said there was no proof to link dwindling numbers to the council proposals.
He added: “I really think the East End parents are grasping at straws to try and prove their case, which I think is impossible to prove.
“Registration may be down at this point, but no-one could identify a definite reason for that.
“This is still at the planning stages, and some of these complaints are completely irrational.
“Everything we do is for the benefit of the kids, and when I hear some of the arguments against these proposals I am left dumbfounded.”
Mr Alexander also stressed that council officers had complied with statutory guidelines in designating class sizes.
Parents attached to New Elgin Primary School say the disputed move is crucial in allowing siblings to go to attend school together.
New Elgin is the town’s busiest primary, and its population is expected to soar well beyond capacity under current guidelines.
Parents argue that, unless children zoned for the new school are sent to the temporary base at East End while it is under construction, their children will be separated.
The council hopes to extend East End’s main entrance, and transform an area previously used as Elgin’s Heritage Centre into three new classrooms.