EDINBURGH’S first new primary school in more than 30 years is among a range of options being considered as city chiefs aim to find a solution to overcrowded classrooms.
Three primaries in the south of the city – South Morningside, James Gillespie’s and Bruntsfield – are under extreme pressure from rising rolls.
Conditions are so cramped at South Morningside that almost £700,000 is being spent fitting out nearby Deanbank Resource Centre in Canaan Lane as a temporary solution from August.
Youngsters in primaries one and two are currently being taught in huts in the school playground and at Fairmilehead Church Hall.
The problem was debated at a meeting of the city council’s education, children and families committee yesterday as councillors pored over the Primary School Capacity Pressure in South Edinburgh report.
Amongst three options now being considered is a new primary school – which could cost at least £10 million, funded by the sale of Boroughmuir High School – on the site of Deanbank Resource Centre and the adjacent Oaklands Care Home.
Councillors could also set up a permanent annexe there, hosting children from nursery to primary three, or improve the centre by adding a new gym and nursery.
The plans could have implications on catchment areas for James Gillespie’s and Bruntsfield primaries, as well as Tollcross Primary School. A statutory consultation is set to be launched in August.
It follows the launch of a public consultation into a catchment review at Towerbank Primary in Portobello, which is also overcrowded.
Education leader Councillor Paul Godzik said: “The area to the south of the city has traditionally experienced a higher increased pressure on primary school places than other parts of the city.
“The three affected primary schools all operate from constrained sites with no dedicated playing fields and the ability to extend capacity on their existing sites is severely limited.
“So we are now putting forward formal options for consideration to allow parents and other interested parties to have their say.
“We believe this is a big step forward, and I would encourage local people to make their views known and contribute to the consultation.
“There has been a demand in the area for a solution to this issue for a growing number of years but providing one is not an easy process.
“Parents will now be able to express their views fully and evaluate the different options we are suggesting.”
Boroughmuir High School is being sold to Cala Homes in a £14.5 million deal, which was agreed despite an appeal by Out of the Blue Trust that its £6.2m offer to transform the school into an arts space would have represented better value for money.