EDUCATION bosses could consider radical proposals to change either Inverkip or Wemyss Bay Primary into a Catholic school to meet future demand for denominational places.

The council is set to review its admission policy and catchment areas in the west of Inverclyde following recent pressure on the roll at St Columba's High in Gourock.

In August Inverclyde Council won a court case against parents to block pupils from associated school St Ninian's Primary from attending the secondary on a placing request.

But in the next school year the capacity at St Columba's will again be under strain.

Education director Ruth Binks has devised alternatives to the current admission criteria and a possible review into future demand for Catholic education in the area.

In a report handed to councillors, Ms Binks said: "To date, St Columba’s High School has been able to accept all of the pupils who wish to attend from the catchment area.

"As part of advanced planning arrangements it has been known that in academic year 2020/21 the school will be under pressure from pupils living within the catchment area.

"It is difficult to predict the exact numbers who are expected to attend St Columba’s High School because the village schools of Inverkip and Wemyss Bay can choose schools which are either denominational or non-denominational in the catchment area."

The education department will now review the current automatic right of pupils at Inverkip and Wemyss Bay, along with their counterparts in Kilmacolm, to choose between non denominational and denominational education at the point of transfer to secondary school.

It will also consider two changes to the admission policy.

The first is for denominational schools to only accept pupils with a certificate of baptism into the Catholic faith to transfer from the village schools.

The second is to remove village schools as feeder schools for denominational secondaries.

One of the concerns raised in the fallout from the St Columba's High placing request row was the plan to build more houses in Inverkip and the impact this would have on school rolls.

Director Ms Binks' report said: "If the planned houses are built then this may bring some pressure on the number of pupils attending St Columba’s High School.

"This pressure is compounded by the right given to those attending Wemyss Bay Primary and Inverkip Primary schools to choose a denominational or non-denominational school at the point of transfer to secondary school."

Officials will be asked to ascertain the demand for a Catholic primary school in the west of Inverclyde in addition to the existing one at St Ninian’s in Gourock.

Proposals to go out to consultation will include changing either Inverkip or Wemyss Bay into a Catholic school.

The council report says: "There are two proposals that could be taken forward.

"The first would be to consider a joint primary campus at Wemyss Bay.

"This would be a separate Catholic school with its own identity.

"The school would serve the needs of those requiring a Catholic education who live in Wemyss Bay and Inverkip."

The report continues: "Another possibility, if there is a significant pressure for Catholic education in the west of Inverclyde, would be to create Wemyss Bay or Inverkip Primary as the Roman

Catholic school for the west.

"This would mean that one school remains as the non-denominational school for the catchment area and the other would be the denominational school."

Members of the education and communities committee will now be asked to agree to launch a consultation exercise.

A report would then be brought back in the new year after this process, outlining the outcome of the consultation and the next steps.