Capital’s first Gaelic school finally gets the go-ahead

The former Bonnington Primary will house the new Gaelic school

The former Bonnington Primary will house the new Gaelic school

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THE city’s first Gaelic school has finally been given the go-ahead following a series of delays linked to the rising cost of the project.

Councillors agreed the £3.5 million redevelopment of the former Bonnington Primary School in Leith, which will house the Capital’s first all-Gaelic primary from 2013.

Pupils will be moved from the current Gaelic Medium Education (GME) unit based in Tollcross Primary to the new facility, and the unit will be closed.

The cost of bringing the old school back into use has jumped dramatically due to the condition of the building, which has been lying empty since December 2008.

A year ago, councillors were told the project would cost just £600,000, but the costs soared as a result of vandalism and roof and water damage.

Following months of discussions with the Scottish Government – which backs the dedicated school – it has agreed to contribute £1.8m.

Following the decision, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, the city’s education leader, said: “The Gaelic community felt it was important for this to happen and the increases over the years in parents wanting their children to go to Tollcross mean we have a pressure to address.”

The move to create the city’s first Gaelic school was passed without debate after all political groups agreed on the proposals from council officials.

As well as the £1.8m of capital funding, the Scottish Government will provide a further £100,000 of additional annual revenue funding, allowing the council to provide another £1.275m through prudential borrowing. The council will also fund the remaining £455,000 of the total £3.53m of capital funding needed and the ongoing costs associated with running the new school.

Gaelic campaigners and parent groups had earlier urged councillors to approve the plan.

Alasdair Cameron, of parent group Comann nam Parant, said: “It is interesting when people understand the quality of education at Tollcross and the number of nationalities represented at one school.

“People of all walks of life and nationalities get a first-class education, and a bilingual education, and we should be proud of that.”

Arthur Cormack, chair of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, said that the council should now make the primary a success before assessing how to provide for Gaelic education at secondary school level.

Education chiefs first started looking at the future of Gaelic provision in Edinburgh after it emerged there had been a large increase in the number of pupils learning the language in recent years.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com