PUPILS attending one of the Capital’s most overcrowded primary schools face daily treks of nearly a mile to reach a new off-site annexe aimed at creating desperately needed teaching space.
Youngsters in P1 and P2 at South Morningside Primary – who are being taught in decaying huts in the school’s playground and a nearby church hall – will instead be housed at Deanbank Resource Centre in Canaan Lane.
Around £670,000 will be spent on converting and kitting out new classrooms in the building, which is scheduled to open for the 2015-16 session.
As well as the removal of 40-year-old teaching blocks, the plans would see youngsters vacate existing space at Cluny Church centre, which is closer to the main campus but has been criticised for its lack of hot meal facilities, dedicated medical rooms, road safety signs and traffic calming measures. South Morningside has a roll approaching 600 in a building designed for 14 classes and is one of a group of south Edinburgh schools facing acute accommodation pressure.
Education chiefs are considering a range of long-term measures to create extra space, including proposals for a new £15 million primary school.
Michael Wilson, 44, whose four-year-old daughter will join P1 at Deanbank next year, said: “Overall the positives outweigh the distance we’ll have to travel. “[Deanbank] is a better building – I believe that there’s green space and cooking facilities on site, but we still have the problem of the school being split across different sites.
“My youngest is going to be there and it’s a way down Canaan Lane – it’s well further than the Cluny annexe.
“For some parents it could cause trouble if you’re dropping off older children in P3 at the main building and then taking kids in P1 and P2 to Deanbank.”
Mum Gillian Grigor, 49, who has children in P3 and P5 at South Morningside, praised the planned opening of the new annexe. She said: “I think this is the best thing we’ve seen as a suggestion – it’s a good solution to most of the problems we have given that we cannot build an entirely new school in a year.
“I think this will help over the next few years and it will mean the council stops paying rent for use of a building it doesn’t own.”
City bosses said the new plans had been put together after extensive consultation with the school community.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to find an appropriate and suitable site.
“It was always the case that we needed to find something that could be delivered within budget – Deanbank provides a good short-term option for the increasing numbers at South Morningside.
“Yes, it’s still a split site but the accommodation will be more extensive and there will be better provision.”