FRESH images have been unveiled showcasing the new facilities set to be built at four Edinburgh schools to cater for the roll-out of free school meals.
Under plans lodged today, Cramond, East Craigs, Towerbank and Sciennes primary schools will all get new halls to allow them to safely seat their pupils together during meal times.
The Scottish Government introduced its flagship free school meals policy in January, but fears were raised after it emerged four of the Capital’s largest primaries did not have enough space to seat all P1 to P3 pupils entitled to the scheme.
Both Cramond and East Craigs currently only have one small hall to cater for lunches and PE lessons, while Towerbank and Sciennes also suffer from a lack of space.
But under the latest proposals, Cramond and East Craigs will get new gym halls, while Towerbank and Sciennes will see extensions put in place to expand their current dining halls.
The £4.5 million move – funded by a capital grant from the Scottish Government and driven forward by the council – will see the extra space brought in towards the end of next year if proposals get the go-ahead.
They do a pretty incredible job at lunchtimes, feeding getting on for 700 kidsGeoff Lynn
It is understood all four primary schools are currently coping with the lack of space by staggering meal times for each year group.
Parents hailed the new plans as “extremely welcome”.
Geoff Lynn, chairman of Portobello Community Council and father of three children at Towerbank, said the primary was currently running “a bit of a military operation” to make sure all the youngsters got their free lunch.
He said: “The council and the school have been juggling the space.
“They do a pretty incredible job at lunchtimes, feeding getting on for 700 kids in what is a traditional, Victorian-designed building. It’s a difficult operation to get all those kids fed and watered – and the kids all play their part as well by tidying up. They are making a really great job out of what is quite a difficult situation.
“Hopefully by expanding the accommodation that will be a benefit at lunchtime.
“It’s not ideal to be losing playground space, but we are working with a Victorian building so it’s never going to be an ideal scenario.”
Figures for the first three months of the year showed that the average free school meal take-up in Edinburgh for all P1 to P3s was 70.3 per cent.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “Parents at the four schools will be pleased to see the designs for the new accommodation and hear that planning applications have now been submitted.
“The schools have worked extremely hard to provide meals in difficult circumstances and I’m sure staff are looking forward to the new facilities.
“The take-up for free school meals has been really encouraging and supports our commitment to serve healthy and nutritious meals. “
Earlier this year, the city council became the first to be awarded the Bronze Food for Life Catering Mark. The new plans will go before planning chiefs at the start of next year.
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