Children at an Edinburgh secondary school have had their names pulled from a hat to decide who should be allowed to go on a ‘once in a lifetime’ school trip to Paris next May - leaving more than 40 children disappointed after it was severely oversubscribed.
Kelly Nicoll, a parent of a pupil at the Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC), contacted the Evening News to tell of her son's disappointment in finding out that he was not allocated a space on the school trip when all of his friends were, despite paying an £80 deposit.
Ms Nicoll’s son, 11-year-old Connor McGhee, found out yesterday that his name was not pulled from the hat for one of the sought after spaces on the trip.
'Sorry, Your Child Hasn't Been Allocated a Space'
“There were 40 spaces originally, and about 94 children paid deposits to go on the trip.” Ms Nicoll said, “It was oversubscribed so the school managed to get 10 more places from the travel agent but not enough. The kids' names were pulled from a hat and we were basically told ‘sorry, your child hasn’t been allocated a space’ even though we had already paid out of pocket for it.”
Ms Nicoll received a text from the school at around 9:30am yesterday to advise that Connor had not been allocated a spot and a letter would be sent home with him to explain further.
“Connor has anxiety and there is one friend in particular that he is always with and his friend was allocated a spot but he wasn’t.” She added, “He was so excited about it and shooting him down at the last minute, or any of the other kids, just isn’t fair.
“We encouraged him to sign up to go to Paris in the first place because we thought it was what he really needed to build his confidence, he’s very shy.”
The children on the Paris trip in May 2020 will have the chance to visit Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix.
She added: “Wester Hailes is a low income area and some children aren’t given the chance to go on holidays like that and this is their chance to go and have that independence.”
The letter sent home to parents advised on details of how to have their deposit returned to them.
“What’s he going to do in May when all his pals are on a trip?
“Him and the other children who were unsuccessful in gaining spaces are going to have to listen to what a good time their friends had.”
School 'Deeply Sorry'
Ms Nicolls also claimed that when she contacted the school regarding the issue she was unable to speak to any senior management but did speak to a guidance admin who she felt patronised her and then hung up the phone.
A statement published on the WHEC website yesterday morning from headteacher David Young said: “We have listened to your concerns around the Paris 2020 trip and are deeply sorry for any distress caused.
“We are working hard with the travel agent to increase capacity to allow all students who have paid a deposit to attend.
“Please bear with us and we will be back in touch early next week.
“Thank you for your patience while we work on this matter.”
An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: "The school is exploring a solution that might allow all pupils who are interested in going on the trip the opportunity to be able to do so."