Comment: Castlebrae school axe far too hasty

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Thursday’s news that the closure of Castlebrae Community High School was to be approved would have been welcomed by the head of schools, Mike Rosendale.

He needs Castlebrae’s cash to fund Portobello High’s running costs, which is going to need to be maintained for several more years than he anticipated.

The impact of the closure of the smallest school in the most deprived part of the city will have a devastating impact on Craigmillar and citizens far beyond.

Castlebrae is not a failing high school. The council’s own consultation paper shows in Table 6 that Castlebrae usually outperforms Wester Hailes Education Centre and Craigroyston in terms of pupils who move into a positive destination.

City officials say there were fewer than 50 responses to the consultation closure, but that neglects to mention the 1120 members on the Save The Brae Facebook group who wrote as one.

A report by Education Scotland gives a much truer picture. It notes that adult users of the school’s community facilities have opposed closure, while parents note in the report that vocational training at Castlebrae is second to none.

Mr Rosendale’s report “recommends current pupils be offered a place at Portobello High”, however reports indicate that Portobello High already has no space for S3 pupils from Castlebrae and by 2018 all schools will be bursting at the seams.

A total of 86 per cent of the responses to the consultation objected to closure, including parents of pupils at feeder primaries Niddrie Mill and Castleview.

Labour councillors should get the full story before they rubber-stamp the decision.

• Kevin Finlay is chairman of the Save The Brae group.