Leader: High School an asset for whole community

Inside the new Portobello High School. Picture: Toby Williams
Inside the new Portobello High School. Picture: Toby Williams
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the sight of the new Portobello High School gradually taking shape has been heartening for thousands of families after years of campaigning and disappointments.

The building may only be a shell at this stage in its development but with the main framework now in place it is possible to get a feel for what will be like when it welcomes its first pupils a year from now.

The campus feel of the new school is a striking departure from the sixties tower block-style of its current home. A well thought through design, including communal learning space and a terrace with views across the Forth, mean it promises to be a welcoming and stimulating environment for learning.

This is an exciting time for the school’s 1300 current pupils and all those youngsters from primaries across the east of the city who will follow them in years to come.

Providing them with first-class facilities to replace their current crumbling classrooms was always, quite rightly, the main priority. But there will be wider benefits for the rest of the community from a modern development like this.

We should not forget that there was a minority implacably opposed to the idea of building on Portobello Park.

It would be entirely fitting if one of the legacies of the sometimes bitter battle over where to build the school was to be community facilities which could be enjoyed by all.

There will be all-weather sports pitches and a swimming pool, as well as a variety of attractive spaces suitable for meetings, entertainment, night classes and clubs. The council and headteacher are already thinking about ways in which they can be enjoyed by the wider east Edinburgh community as well as pupils.

The Capital’s newest high school has the chance to be a true asset to all the community that it serves. It shouldn’t be judged a success unless it benefits both pupils and other local residents.