Single mum forced to make three school runs

Kathryn Murray with sons Jayden, front, and from left, Devan, Neil and Andrew. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Kathryn Murray with sons Jayden, front, and from left, Devan, Neil and Andrew. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A SINGLE mum is facing a “nightmare” daily drive through rush-hour traffic to three different schools – after her son was refused a place at the same primary attended by his brothers.

Mum-of-six Kathryn Murray, 36, will spend nearly three hours a day driving between St Cuthbert’s Primary, East Craigs Primary, and St Augustine’s High after education officials ruled there was no space for five-year-old Jayden at St Cuthbert’s.

The decision means the unemployed full-time mum will be forced to rise at 7am every day to embark on a madcap school run taking in some of the city’s worst traffic blackspots – sending her fuel bill for her tiny Fiat Seicento soaring from £40 to £60 and eating into her household budget.

She faces being unable to drop Jayden off at nearby East Craigs because school doesn’t start until 8.50am and she can’t leave him unaccompanied. So, to avoid making her other kids late, she’ll have to race to St Augustine’s to meet its early 8.35am start and St Cuthbert’s, which begins its school day at 8.55am.

Ms Murray has slammed the ruling – which she claims means at least one of her children will be half an hour late each day for school – and is filing an appeal at the Sheriff Court to fight it.

She said: “It will be virtually impossible to take my five-year-old to another school every day – I am a single parent and I have to do that run by myself.”

Ms Murray sent sons Devan and Andrew, now aged eight and 11, to St Cuthbert’s when they were living in Slateford.

But she was forced to make an out-of-catchment placing request this session because the family were made temporarily homeless six years ago and had to leave the area.

They moved to a housing association-owned home in East Craigs – as it was the only property large enough – and the only one suitable for Ms Murray’s 14-year-old son, Neil, who has cerebral palsy and attends St Augustine’s High.

“I don’t feel the council are being fair,” she said. “I don’t think they realise what that journey actually involves and I don’t think anybody has thought about this situation properly. I would absolutely refuse to send my children to East Craigs Primary. They have 60 P1s there so what kind of education is my son going to get?”

Education officials insisted Ms Murray’s appeal had been considered carefully.

A Council spokesman said: “Every year we run a campaign advising parents to visit their local school to find out the benefits of sending their child there. We also highlight the risks associated with making out of catchment requests and that many may not be met. All appeals are carefully considered. If parents are unsuccessful then they are entitled to go to the Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a further appeal.”