School merger branded '˜nightmare before Christmas'

A PROPOSED merger of two Edinburgh high schools has been branded the 'nightmare before Christmas' as parents and pupils lobbied council chiefs to rethink the plans.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 10:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 10:48 am
Dani Dinwoodie with pupils Dougie Barton 11 and Luca Dinwoodie 11. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Councillors heard a heartfelt plea from members of the Currie High community following news the school could be in line to close if a suggested merger goes ahead.

The plans, part of the council’s ongoing schools review, would see the creation of a new south west Edinburgh high school, made from the amalgamation of Currie High and Wester Hailes Education Centre (WHEC).

As a result, both of the existing schools would close in 2022 following the transfer of pupils to the new site.

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But campaigners have vowed to fight the plans and yesterday appeared before the council’s education committee in a call for Currie High to be kept open.

Naomi Barton, co-chair of Currie High’s parent council, told councillors the proposal was an “unwanted gift” to everyone associated with both high schools.

Addressing the committee, Ms Barton referred to the plans as the community’s “nightmare before Christmas” and said their emergence had already had a “massive impact”.

She said: “The more people think about it, the more they are screaming out. They are screaming out: let this nightmare stop, stop this proposal.

“Already people are scared, people are angry, people are unsettled, they are confused as they think about the impact this proposal will have.”

She was joined by Lee Picken, of Juniper Green Primary School parent council, whose catchment would go to the new high school under the proposals.

Ms Picken said the most common reason for objection was concern over educational attainment and that the second most cited was fears over transport, safety and infrastructure, particularly in relation to increased traffic volumes on Lanark Road.

She said: “Quite simply this proposal does not come close to getting it right for every child in our community.”

It comes as pupils dropped off dozens of handwritten letters calling on Santa to help them keep Currie High open.

Speaking at the committee, education convener Ian Perry said he welcomed the Currie community’s deputation and said it was important everyone had the opportunity to make their voices heard.

He said: “This is a consultation process – no decisions have been taken and we need to gather as much information as possible.

“That’s why deputations like Currie are important for us to know what they are feeling and what they are saying to us before we take a final decision.

“Information is fundamentally important to this and if any of the deputations or anybody out there in any of the schools connected with this restructuring haven’t got the information then they need to tell us what it is. They need to be as informed as we are when we are taking this decision.”