By Victoria Weldon

A parent group is planning to take legal action against Scotland’s only directly government-funded school in a row over its admissions policy.

The dispute centres on claims the catchment areas for popular Jordanhill School in Glasgow’s West End place some local families at a disadvantage.

Jordanhill Families for Inclusion (JFFI) is attempting to raise funds to appoint a QC to take the case forward in the hope that it will force the school to change its policy.

The school, which regularly tops exam leagues, said it “empathises” with families unable to get a place, but that alternative admissions methods would “create as many problems as they would solve”.

Tony MacHugh, a father who is heading up JFFI, said: “This is an issue that is dividing the community. The admissions policy is unfair and sees some children in the local area treated like second class citizens.

“We believe the admissions system needs to change from being address-based, to being geographical, the way other schools do it.

“We’ve had dialogue with the school to try to resolve this, but we feel we’re getting nowhere and now need to take further action.”

Under the current admissions policy, the school operates a list system, with pupils on list one – who reside in “longstanding” addresses - taking priority.

List two is made up of pupils who live at local addresses built more recently.

A recent proposal by CALA Homes to donate £1.6m to the school in exchange for a new development of homes being included in list one was rejected by parents at the school earlier this year.

The move would also have seen those living at other list two addresses moved into list one, however 63% of parents voted against it.

Mr MacHugh, who has one child at Jordanhill and another who attends school elsewhere because she did not get a place, said: “I just can’t believe that they would refuse that money. The school was planning to build a new sports facility, it would have benefitted the children and the local community.”

JFFI is now trying to raise £10,000 in the hope that an advocate can be appointed to look at the case.

The group has distributed letters to more than 200 homes appealing for residents to join their group and donate to the legal bid.

The letter states: “We are a group of residents who live in the Jordanhill community. Our aim is to challenge and ultimately change the Jordanhill High School (JHS) admissions policy to provide all Jordanhill residents with the same access rights to JHS, so JHS has one list for all homes in Jordanhill.”

It adds: “JFFI have gone down the dialogue route by meeting with the school and writing to the Jordanhill Parents Action Group (JPAG) with no success.

“We believe it is now time to challenge the School legally, therefore we wish to seek the service of a QC to look at our position to establish if we have a case to challenge JHS in court.

“We expect the cost of the QC opinion to be in the region of £10,000 and believe if we create 50 to 100 donations of £100+ then we will achieve our 1st goal.”

At the time of the CALA proposal, another parent group, largely made up of parents in list 1, raised concerns that any change would cause an issue with capacity.

An independent review of admissions undertaken in 2018 and commended the school “for attempting to manage as best it can a very complex situation”.

A school spokesperson said: “The Admissions Regulations are reviewed annually in advance of the admission cycle. Jordanhill School is a charity. In 2020 the members decided not to make changes to the regulations.

“The school empathises greatly with the families of all local children to whom we are unable to offer a place. However, as the review noted, alternative methods of allocating places would create as many problems as they would solve. Following a set of regulations which are entirely in the public domain is a more reasonable approach. Admitting more pupils to the school would certainly help alleviate the current problem. However, this would require additional funding for the necessary teachers and this is simply not available at present. These are complex issues with no short-term solutions which would find ready favour across all parts of the community.”

The spokesperson added that “the school is clear that there are no reasonable grounds for legal challenge”.

Jordanhill School is the former demonstration school for the teaching college and is the only school in Scotland to be directly funded by the Scottish Government, rather than through the local authority.

Founded in 1920, the school was run by Jordanhill College of Education as its demonstration school until 1988, and was known as Jordanhill College School until that date.