New designs for classrooms will cut overcrowding

The new school extention planned for  Liberton school. Picture: contributed
The new school extention planned for Liberton school. Picture: contributed
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DETAILED designs for 17 new classrooms to alleviate overcrowding at five of the Capital’s most popular primary schools have been unveiled.

Education chiefs said the new buildings – which will also provide five general purpose spaces for PE, music and other activities – would offer “the very best educational environment” to pupils at Liberton, Craigour Park, Broughton, Victoria and St David’s primaries.

The designs were revealed as the Capital battles to create new teaching space amid a double-digit boom in P1 enrolment numbers across the city.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “Primary school rolls in the city are predicted to rise by around 15 per cent by 2019 - bringing our primary school population to over 31,000. That’s why the Capital Coalition doubled the funding available to deal with this issue, and has now committed £15 million.”

The new designs are part of phase two of the council’s rising rolls programme, with education leaders considering whether and how capacity could be boosted at ten Edinburgh primary schools.

Five classrooms are set to be built in three phases at Stockbridge Primary – stoking fears over disruption to pupils’ learning – with existing teaching space subdivided to create more accommodation at Flora Stevenson and Fox Covert schools. A catchment review may be carried out at St Mary’s RC Leith, while education bosses will also look at converting a temporary unit occupied by Tynecastle FC into new classrooms for 
Balgreen Primary.

Cllr Godzik said recent changes to planning procedure meant the city was better equipped to deal with the issue of school overcrowding.

“Our approach allows us the flexibility to plan much better for the future, and we are working with school communities and parent councils as we move forward,” he said.

The new designs have been welcomed by parent leaders, who said there had been fears schools would be offered little more than “wooden cabins”.

Paula McVay, chair of St David’s RC Primary parent council, said: “It’s a shame that the possibility of extending the school for extra classrooms isn’t going to happen but I hope they will still look into this and other options if more classes are needed in the future.

“If the rising rolls allow us to get the standalone in time for next year it will give us class space that we really need.”