Liberton High S1 intake falls after Keane tragedy

Pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett died when a 'wobbly wall' at Liberton High fell on top of her. Picture: contributed

Pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett died when a 'wobbly wall' at Liberton High fell on top of her. Picture: contributed

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THE school where a 12-year-old pupil was crushed to death by a “wobbly” wall has seen its prospective S1 intake plunge by nearly 40 per cent, the Evening News can reveal.

Applications to join Liberton High when term starts next week have fallen to 66 from 106 at the same point last 
year.

It comes months after a changing room wall collapsed, killing pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett on April 1, and appears to suggest anxious parents are shunning the school for safety reasons.

A probe into the accident by the Health and Safety Executive is ongoing.

Political leaders have branded the dwindling pupil figures “a great shame” and suggested they would be linked to the tragedy.

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, who represents the Liberton ward, is liaising closely with parents to boost morale and promote the school.

She said: “I think I would agree it would be easy to infer from the figures that this was at least partly due to the terribly tragedy in April.

“But it would be wrong to draw from that a criticism of the school because they have worked very hard to build their reputation in the local 
community and in terms of attainment they do well.

“The staff are incredibly committed to the pupils and that really has come out in the post-tragedy work that’s been done.”

The S1 entry of 66 is considerably below a “snapshot” projection of 93 prospective pupils estimated just after the April tragedy.

In 2012, the number of youngsters who took up S1 places at Liberton was 96, compared to a projected intake of 123.

Cllr Hart insisted there was still much work to be done.

“The teachers have gone the extra mile to support the children through this time,” she said.

“And I think anyone considering sending their children to Liberton High at this point would be sending them to a great school which has fantastic hopes and aspirations for the pupils and its own future.

“I think there’s work that needs to be done to convince local communities.

“The parent council and staff are working both with the local councillors and the children and families department to communicate the successes of the school.”

Council bosses stressed that predicting school rolls is never an exact science and that S1 intakes across the Capital were in decline.

A spokeswoman said: “The situation at Liberton this year is following a similar trend to recent years.

“Every year, many of our schools find their actual start of session roll is lower than earlier predictions and there are many factors that can impact on their final figures.”

She added: “This year, as anticipated, the citywide S1 roll has reduced once again allowing more S1 placing requests to be granted when parents wish to choose an alternative to their catchment school.”

In June, the News revealed how a dance studio would be built at Liberton High School as part of a revamp which includes demolition of the gym hall where Keane died and plans for a £2.5 million extension of the school’s main PE block.

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com