New Edinburgh primary school: parents and community to be consulted over name

Parents and the local community are to be asked for their views on the name of the new primary school to be built in Morningside’s Canaan Lane.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:55 am

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They will be asked to help decide what the new school should be called by ranking three proposed names in order of preference in an online consultation.

And the findings will be reported to the city’s education committee in December.

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The new school is due to open in August 2022

The three names under consideration are Canaan Lane Primary School, North Morningside Primary School and Saroj Lal Primary School, after Edinburgh’s first ethnic minority primary teacher who died last year aged 82.

A campaign by Mrs Lal’s son Vineet for the school to be named after his mother sparked a racist backlash earlier this year.

The education committee was told on Monday discussions so far had failed to produce agreement on the best timing for a survey or who should be surveyed.

One option was to give the school a temporary name until it opens in August 2022 and then survey pupils and families who attend the new school on a permanent name.

But the committee agreed unanimously to go ahead with a consultation now. Those eligible to take part in the survey will be parents of the proposed new P1 intake, parents of neighbouring primary schools, parents of nursery schools in the catchment area and residents living in the proposed catchment.

Proposing the consultation and the eligibility criteria, Lib Dem councillor Louise Young said: “It has become a very important issue locally and I think the more we can do to make this as transparent as possible and to get as wide a picture as possible of people’s views the better. That helps us to make the right decision when we come back to look at this again in December.”

And Tory councillor Callum Laidlaw said: “We need to recognise this is a hugely important thing because it’s naming a school for generations to come.”

The new school will open with nursery and P1 pupils only.

The catchment area is made up of sections from the catchment areas of three existing primary schools – Bruntsfield, South Morningside and James Gillespie’s.

The school is being built on a site next to St Peter’s RC Primary School and is the current location for the South Morningside Primary School Deanbank Annexe.

In August, the Evening News reported how social media had been used to attack the campaign for the school to be named after Mrs Lal.

One critic on Facebook called the proposal a "disgrace" and said: "Let's name it after a famous Edinburgher".

Another wrote: “At a time when our history is being constantly eroded, the name Saroj Lal just isn't Scottish. This is a Scottish school and its name should properly reflect the area."

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Mrs Lal’s son Vineet said his mother spent most of her life in Edinburgh. "If she is not an Edinburgher, what is she?" he asked.

And Morningside Labour councillor Mandy Watt, who backs Mr Lal’s campaign, said: "It never occurred to me that anybody would think her name wasn't Scottish enough and I can't see why that's relevant. "This proposal is an excellent opportunity to show that service to our community is valued, regardless of a person's gender, race or wealth."

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