Rooftop play area proposed for Primary school

Plans for the garden space. Picture: comp

Plans for the garden space. Picture: comp

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PUPILS are to go “up on the roof” in a bid to ease the Capital’s schools crush.

Education chiefs have proposed building a rooftop playground at Flora Stevenson Primary, which has been lined up for emergency expansion work amid soaring demand for spots in overcrowded classrooms.

Pupils at Flora Stevenson Primary could soon be enjoying play time on the roof of their building. Picture: Greg Macvean

Pupils at Flora Stevenson Primary could soon be enjoying play time on the roof of their building. Picture: Greg Macvean

The unique “rooftop garden” would be situated on top of a new teaching block set to be erected to reduce acute accommodation pressure caused by rising rolls.

City bosses hope the development will allow new classrooms to be provided while averting a reduction in overall playground space.

Parents at the Victorian-era school have welcomed the plans, which draw inspiration from similar projects in Japan, Germany, Scandinavia and England.

Lindsay Law, who has children in P3 and P5 at Flora Stevenson, and is parent representative on the city’s education committee, said: “I think we’re all excited that the council are looking at other possibilities to make up for the loss of playground space when the new classrooms are built.

“Flora Stevenson has one of the worst child-to-playground space ratios in the city, so obviously there’s a need to put in more than just another classroom there.”

The council’s vision for a rooftop garden comes as the Capital prepares for a population boom, with new data yesterday showing the total number of residents is expected to rise by nearly 30 per cent over the next 25 years.

Edinburgh’s classrooms are already feeling the squeeze, with primary school rolls set to jump 15 per cent to nearly 31,000 by 2019.

Flora Stevenson is not the first school to be singled out for a rooftop playground and activity space, as the replacement Boroughmuir High will have one when its new premises open in 2016.

While stressing pupil safety would be of paramount importance, mums and dads said they were heartened to see council leaders considering radical ways of maximising the use of cramped inner-city teaching spots.

Jane Weatherly, the school’s parent council chairwoman, said: “We did stress that the loss of playground space would have to be compensated and, fair dues to the council, they have come up with innovative ideas.

“Stockholm has lots of roof gardens and we’re going to be looking abroad to gather the best information we can while this is being looked at.”

Education bosses said the rooftop proposals had been put together on the back of parents’ views and that they would continue to work with families to overcome the rising rolls 
challenge.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “This shows once again that the council are actively working with parents to tackle rising rolls, and are bringing forward some radical solutions to ensure that the educational environment for pupils is not compromised.”

Space at a premium

SCHOOLS across the world have seen rooftop playgrounds built within grounds where space is at a premium.

Education chiefs in countries ranging from Japan to Egypt have been forced to consider them in a bid to provide outdoor activity spots in squeezed urban areas.

But the pioneering spaces do not come without problems.

An elevated playground was built at Burton Road Primary in the town of Barnsley, Yorkshire, but was later deemed unsafe and a risk to children because the perimeter fence was found to be too low.

Local planners later agreed to boost its height from 1.3 to 2.4 metres.

And similar plans to provide a rooftop playground at Abington Vale Primary in Northamptonshire sparked acute safety worries among mums and dads.