Masterplan to rebuild Liberton High after outcry

A masterplan will be drawn up to rebuild Liberton High School despite no assurance that funding will be provided from the Scottish Government.

Monday, 19th November 2018, 7:05 am
Updated Monday, 19th November 2018, 7:19 am
The council wants to rebuild Liberton High School despite no promises of government cash. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The school, which was opened in 1959, missed out on the latest round of funding for construction – with the city council instead ploughing ahead with plans to rebuild Currie High, Trinity Academy and Castlebrae High.

The council will now hold two masterplan workshops with local councillors, MSPs, MPs, school staff and community groups – and bring forward a programme of work early next year.

Parents and councillors have demanded that the school is rebuilt since 12-year-old pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett was killed when a changing room wall fell on her in 2014. Pleas for a rebuild have fallen on deaf ears, despite the council remaining committed to a new campus – as the authority will need Wave 4 funding from the Scottish Government to push any plans forward.

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Last month it was revealed that staff and pupils have escaped three near misses from falling building materials at the school in the last two years – while repair works have been carried out.

Education, children and families convener, Cllr Ian Perry, said: “Liberton is one of six high schools we want to replace with new schools as part of our £207 million Wave 4 programme and we are now committed to developing a master plan for a replacement school.

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“The first action will be setting up a series of stakeholder workshops early next year involving staff, local elected members and the wider school community which would include invites to the community council, local groups and sports clubs that use the current site. As part of the stakeholder engagement, we will be able to explore the mix of facilities the school requires and any potential options for co-location of community services. The benefits of carrying out a master plan are that once funding is available for the school replacement, the new facility will be able to move quickly into the detailed design and construction phases.”

The sports facilities which were built following the 2014 fatal accident will be retained as part of any new school – while community facilities such as a library could be included in the new proposals.

Lothians MSP Miles Briggs previously called for a summit to investigate a new school.

He said: “I am very pleased that the City of Edinburgh Council have finally committed to developing a master plan for a replacement Liberton High School, which is long overdue.

“The current school building is in serious disrepair, needing to be constantly patched up and it is clear to everyone that the building is not fit for purpose. This is only the first step in building a new Liberton High School and there is still a long way to go to make it a reality.”

Pupils will be able to remain in the current buildings while construction takes place on other areas of the school site.

Labour ward Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron called on the Scottish Government to back a new Liberton High School.

She said: “We shouldn’t have to choose what schools in the city are rebuilt – we want to provide all of our pupils with a modern and safe environment.”