ROMA children in Glasgow are 'crying to learn' as support workers claim some are waiting up to a year for a school place.

But education bosses disputed the claim, saying parents are choosing to keep children at home if they don't get into the school of their choice.

The issue came to light during a recent Govanhill Regeneration Group meeting attended by two workers from the Govanhill Community Development Trust.

One, an ESOL and Integration Worker, quizzed education boss Donald Macleod over an issue she sees repeatedly in the South Side community, which has a high Roma population.

She said: "It's a huge issue for us that I come across parents who are from Roma communities on a weekly basis and we know of cases where they are waiting a long time for places at school.

"We all understand the strain on the local schools but we just wonder can there be something like a safe transitioning space, a waiting space where those kids can do something?

"There's no place for them in the community.

"So they are hanging around and it's damaging for them, damaging for their morale, damaging for their success opportunities especially as once they reach 16 their chance of a school place is gone.

"What's the frame work? What's the process? What is the longest time a child can wait at school?

Mr MacLeod disputed the claim, saying processes are in place to ensure every child is accommodated at a school.

He said certain Govanhill schools are popular with Roma parents, who will keep their child at home rather than send them elsewhere.

He said: "There is a local school full procedure so if a child is waiting for a school place they would be offered a place in a different establishment, and that is the case across the city.

"Some of the year groups in some of our secondaries are full but it would never be the case that we would never be able to offer a space to any youngster.

"They are provided with a place but that place is often not in the establishment of their choice."

However, the worker and her colleague, a Romanian speaking Community Development Worker, challenged this.

She said: "That's the theory but unfortunately we see the reality, which is different.

"We have kids who are crying to learn."

The Community Development worker added: "Obviously this is anecdotally but they do tend to wait for a year.

"There are a lot of things that could be changed and made better.

"A lot of my clients are Roma or Romanian and children having 80 per cent or as low as 50 per cent is infinity more than they would be dealing with at home.

"They have a much, much better development here and the schools are doing great things with them.

"But there is always room for things to be better."

Nicola Sturgeon, local MSP for Govanhill, was also at the meeting and said a report should be drafted to ensure the issue can be fully looked at.

She said: "No child should be out of school, but if parents are choosing to wait for a year for a school place then that should be something that is on the education department's radar.

"We all want assurance that this is not a wide-spread issue but I think we should be able to determine whether there are vast numbers of Roma children who should be in school but are not.

"It should be possible to get a sense of how big an issue this is."