Survey finds majority of Edinburgh's Gaelic parents oppose council's plan for secondary school

A MAJORITY of parents with children receiving Gaelic-medium education in Edinburgh have come out against the council’s proposal for a Gaelic secondary school on a joint campus with Liberton High School.

The council proposed a new Gaelic high school alongside a new Liberton High
The council proposed a new Gaelic high school alongside a new Liberton High

And one parent said the council needed to go back to the drawing board instead of pursuoing an unsatisfactory “quick fix”.

The existing secondary-age Gaelic-medium education (GME) unit has to move from its current base at James Gillespie's High because the school is at capacity with pupil numbers set to grow. The council set out four options for a new GME high school but said its preference was to co-locate it with a new Liberton High School at the existing Liberton site at a cost of £30 million.

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The response from the Gaelic parents association Comann nam Pàrant to an informal consultation on the plan revealed a survey found 51 per cent believed sharing the campus at Liberton did not offer the scope to create a school that met the parents’ priorities. Just 15 per cent said it did and 34 per cent were unsure.

In answer to another question, 41 per cent said the plan could not achieve the successful delivery of GME at secondary level, while 18 per cent said it could and 41 per cent were unsure.

GME parent Siobhan Mathers said: "The survey found only 15 per cent in support of the council’s Liberton joint campus proposal. The council needs to go back to the drawing board and find a solution which will serve the needs of GME pupils over the next generation rather than an unsatisfactory quick fix.

“Edinburgh is missing a trick in not following the successful example of the Glasgow Gaelic Secondary School which has some of the highest academic attainment rates in the country with a diverse mix of pupils from all backgrounds and numbers growing every year.

“Academic studies have shown that joint campuses don’t work for teaching minority languages. A stand-alone GME secondary school could be the jewel in the crown of state education in Edinburgh and I hope that the council will work with GME parents to achieve that.”

As well as concerns over the shared campus plan, some parents argued Liberton was not a central enough location to cater for the whole city.

Parents’ association chair Sharon May said they looked forward to further conversations with the council.

“We hope the council will take on board the concerns raised by Comann nam Pàrant. We have worked hard to ensure all families with children in GME had the opportunity to have their voices heard. We are awaiting the outcome from the informal consultation and trust it will lead to a strong growth for GME in Scotland’s capital city.”

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A council spokesman said: “We’re committed to expanding high-quality secondary GME in an immersive environment. Our informal consultation ended this week and as part of that we held two well-attended virtual meetings for the school communities where a wide range of topics were discussed. The feedback from these meetings, results from our online consultation and the Comann nam Parant submission will be taken on board as part of our plan to publish a report on the next steps. We will continue to engage with the GME school communities as part of our long-term strategy to develop GME.”

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