WHAT a difference three years make.Turn the clock back 36 months and four primary schools were being closed down after serving Edinburgh for a combined total of 220 years.
Today, the city is looking to spend £10 million building the Capital’s first new primary for around 35 years.
The parents who fought determined battles to stop the closures will wonder what is going on, what has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. The reality, though, is that this is a desperately needed addition to the south side of the city, where some of the Capital’s most popular state schools are bursting at the seams.
Schools such as South Morningside and Sciennes primaries are being forced to turn pupils away and cannot provide the environment and opportunities they would wish for the children they do teach. It is an unacceptable situation which cannot be allowed to continue. This new school has to be an urgent priority for the Labour-SNP coalition.
These schools may not face the same challenges as some in other less affluent parts of the city, but that should not hide the fact that they are success stories for the state education system.
Parents are choosing to send their children to these schools in large numbers when they could be opting for other schools in the private or state sector. They must not be punished for that success by being left to cope with serious overcrowding.
The schools that were shut three years ago were in a very different situation. All were no more than half-full, thanks in part to the choices made by local parents. It made sense for the council to close them as they looked to make efficiencies to ensure it got the best value for money from the education budget.
The opening of a new school so soon after those closures may seem like odd timing, but it hasn’t come a moment too soon.