Edinburgh education: Next move on new Kirkliston high school and new primaries in Queensferry and Gracemount
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Plans for a brand new secondary school and two new primaries are about to take a big step forward as Edinburgh council prepares to launch a consultation which will help shape the proposals.
Kirkliston is set to get its own high school on the site of the town’s existing sports centre while a new primary in South Queensferry will serve housing schemes at Builyeon Road and South Scotstoun and St Catherine’s RC Primary in Gracemount will be demolished and re-built nearby.
Councillors will next week be asked to progress statutory consultations for each of the projects, which have been hit by delays as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Education convener Joan Griffiths said it was vital to provide young people with “the best schools that we can give them”.
People in Kirkliston have voiced concern about the loss of the sports centre, but the council says publicly-accessible leisure facilities will be located within the new school. Youngsters living in the area currently attend Queensferry High which is expected to surpass capacity by 2025. Previously, the council considered extending the building but earlier this year settled on a standalone school in Kirkliston. This will have capacity for 600 pupils and will be “extendable to 1,200 if required”.
The catchment area will be based on the existing Kirkliston Primary catchment area. A report said initial local engagement showed there was “majority support” for a secondary school in Kirkliston, but objections were raised by residents living in the streets directly around the leisure centre “who are concerned by the impact a new secondary school will have on traffic and parking”.
It added: “This site also presents a challenge as it will be necessary to demonstrate that appropriate pitch provision can be made available for school use. Investigations into how this requirement can be met are still ongoing.”
Councillor Griffiths said Kirkliston has been “crying out for a high school for a long time”. She said: “There’s been lots of previous consultation done with both the Kirkliston area and Queensferry to try and gauge people’s views, because obviously we want to take communities with us when we’re building anything new in the area. I know there are a lot of issues around that area in terms of transport but we need to keep in mind the children and young people and their education.”
The plans for a new non-denominational primary school in South Queensferry for the Builyeon Road and South Scotstoun estates was first included in the concil’s 2016 local development plan. The council has secured a site at Builyeon Road and the process of appointing a design team is already underway, with the opening planned for August 2026 at the earliest.
The report said: “Community engagement to date has raised no concerns about the proposed establishment of a new school at Builyeon Road. However, a key element of the development of a new school is establishing the school’s catchment area and the impact this could have on neighbouring school’s catchments.
“Some parts of the South Scotstoun housing development and/or other areas of Queensferry Primary School’s catchment will have to be realigned with other schools. The statutory consultation paper will set out the catchment options that would reduce numbers at Queensferry Primary School sufficiently and make best use of the capacity offered by a new primary school at Builyeon Road.”
The £20m project to rebuild St Catherine’s RC Primary in Gracemount was announced in 2018 after investigations found the building was in a poor condition and that “replacement, rather than an upgrade, was required”. The 11-class school alongside a 64 place nursery is proposed to be constructed on the site of the council’s South Neighbourhood Office and disused former Leisure Centre pitches sites off Captain’s Road.
The report said: “The consultation paper will therefore set out proposals to relocate the school to the new site and consider relationships with the other adjacent council owned properties. No change of catchment area is proposed. Responses favoured rebuilding the school on its existing site. However, it is considered that relocating the school to a new site presents the best value option, avoiding a costly and disruptive decant of the existing school during construction.
"The new school would be designed with an expansion strategy, allowing up to a further four classroom spaces to be built at a future stage, if this should ultimately prove necessary.”