Have these Edinburgh city-centre sites been considered for Gaelic secondary school?

Council chiefs are facing questions about potential city-centre sites for a Gaelic secondary school for the Capital as parents resist plans to place it alongside a new Liberton High School.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 4:45 pm

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Green councillor Chas Booth, whose children attend Edinburgh’s Gaelic-medium primary school, has listed locations which have been mentioned as possibilities for the new school, ranging from the old Royal High School to a former council depot, and wants to know whether the council has considered them.

Edinburgh’s secondary Gaelic-medium education unit is currently based at James Gillespie's High School, but it has to move because the school is already at capacity and set to grow further, so the plan is to establish a new Gaelic secondary school.

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The former Royal High School is one of the sites Cllr Chas Booth has asked about
The former Royal High School is one of the sites Cllr Chas Booth has asked about

The council has proposed it should be built on a joint campus with a new Liberton High School.

But parents argue Gaelic education thrives better in stand-alone schools where children are in a “linguistic bubble”.

The SNP's manifesto at the May election promised a stand-alone Gaelic secondary school for Edinburgh in a central location, but new Education Secretary has since given her backing to the council's plans.

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The council wants the Gaelic high school to be on a joint campus with a new Liberton High School

In a series of questions tabled for Thursday's full council meeting, Cllr Booth names six locations which he says have been suggested as potential sites for the new school and asks whether the council has discussed the feasibility of any of them with the current owner or the Scottish Government.

The six sites are: the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street; the old Royal High School; the old Tynecastle High School; the Lothian Buses depot on Annandale Street; the former Royal Victoria Hospital site; and the council's former depot at Russell Road.

Cllr Booth – who is Edinburgh Greens’ spokesperson on Gaelic – is also asking council leader Adam McVey whether he has made clear to the Education Secretary that the council’s preferred option of Liberton was supported by just 15 per cent of parents surveyed by the parents association Comann nam Pàrant and how the Liberton proposal is seen to be consistent with the SNP manifesto commitment for “the creation of a standalone GME secondary school in central Edinburgh".

And he asks what discussions Cllr McVey has had with Scottish Government ministers on Gaelic education, what the conclusions of these discussions were and what future such meetings are planned.

Cllr Booth said: "Many Gaelic parents were delighted to read the SNP Holyrood manifesto commitment to a central, standalone Gaelic secondary school in Edinburgh earlier this year, since that's clearly the best option for the growth of the language in the Capital. Several parents have suggested possible centrally-located sites for the school, and have passed those suggestions on to me. My question simply asks the council whether they have considered any of the sites listed, and whether they have discussed them with the Scottish Government.

“Perhaps none of these options are suitable or viable, but the council won't know that until they investigate. I assume the SNP-led Edinburgh council would want to support the SNP Scottish Government to deliver an SNP manifesto commitment, and that’s what my question aims to clarify."

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