Primaries join forces to fight appeal over new high school

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PARENTS from Portobello’s primary schools have banded together in a bid to persuade a protest group to drop its appeal against the building of a new high school.

The parent councils of five primary schools, together with Portobello High School’s parent council, have written an open letter to the Portobello Park Action Group (PPAG), urging it to reconsider the appeal.

The move follows several attempts, including a petition and a Facebook campaign, to get the group to drop its legal challenge to the new Portobello High School being built on Portobello Park.

PPAG is appealing a Court of Session judgement in favour of the plans, a move which could delay the new school by up to two years.

The letter from the parent councils of Brunstane, Duddingston, Parsons Green, Royal High and Towerbank primary schools and Portobello High, states: “The high school is already performing well despite the challenges posed to staff and pupils by the out-of-date buildings, but just imagine the centre of excellence it would become in a fabulous new building in the park.

“Step back from any immediate anxieties you may have, many of which have been shown to be unfounded or exaggerated, and think of the long-lasting advantages for all of us of having a new school in a wonderful setting.”

Paul Smart, chair of Portobello High School’s parent council, said it was important that all the cluster schools came together to assess the consequences of further delays to a new school.

“The children who are going to benefit most are those now coming through the primary schools,” he said.

“We hope it will have the desired effect. We feel now that any further delay is going to jeopardise the future of our children in terms of their education.”

Susan Ferguson, chair of Brunstane Primary’s parent council, highlighted the importance of the new school for the local community.

“We see it as more than just a high school,” she said. “It’s just a massive opportunity for our community for the high school to be built there. The regeneration and things the high school will bring to the community mean a lot to us.”

Diana Cairns of PPAG said the letter would have no impact on its decision to proceed with the appeal.

“If we don’t appeal this, a precedent will have been set which allows councils to appropriate green land without any checks or balances on it,” she said.

She added that the group had never opposed the building of a new school, only the decision to build it on Portobello Park.

“It’s about the common good and the use of open space, especially when the school could be built elsewhere,” she said.