HUNDREDS of pupils started their first day back after the summer holidays in new classrooms provided with a £20 million local authority fund to improve schools across the city.
Edinburgh City Council has introduced a total of 24 new learning spaces for the 2015-16 academic year, in a move to tackle the city’s increasing primary school population and to ensure children get a place at their allocated catchment school. James Gillepsie’s, Clermiston, Ratho and Gilmerton are just a sample of schools that have been provided with extra rooms, with all gaining four new classrooms.
Councillor Paul Godzik, education convener, said: “In total the council has allocated nearly £20m to tackle the issue of rising rolls and to provide new, high quality classrooms for our pupils.
“The rapid rise in the school population is a problem facing local authorities across the UK.
“It is a real challenge for us here in Edinburgh, but it’s a challenge we are meeting.
“No other council in Scotland has taken such an innovative and collaborative approach to tackling this issue or invested as much.
“It is a further demonstration that whether it is delivering entirely new buildings, extending existing buildings or reconfiguring space, the Capital Coalition is committed to providing the very best educational environment for our pupils.”
Since 2013, the council has provided 70 new class spaces to accommodate the city’s increasing primary school population.
At the start of the 2014-15 school year, there were 28,010 primary school pupils, but the latest figures show this is anticipated to rise to 31,700 by 2020 and then increase further to 35,400 by 2030.
Ratho, Pentland and Wardie primary schools will also benefit from new classrooms, while primary 1 and 2 pupils at South Morningside school will enjoy a temporary new annexe that has been created at the former Deanbank Resource Centre.
Extra space has also been introduced at both Brunstfield and Liberton Primary Schools.
The new classrooms have been provided by the council in conjunction with partners Hub South East Scotland Ltd and Morrison Construction.
Richard Park, Operations Director, Hub South East Scotland Ltd, said: “I am proud to be marking the third successful year working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to tackle the issue of rising school rolls.
“In total we’ve now delivered 14 extensions on time and on budget through this innovative programme, providing quality, long-term classrooms to tight timescales.
“These modern facilities have had extremely positive feedback from staff and pupils and we look forward to working on future phases, continuing this successful, collaborative effort.”
Eight primary schools have already been identified by the Edinburgh City Council as potentially having accommodation issues for August 2016 due to rising school rolls.
Some of these include Balgreen, East Craigs, Ferryhill, Roseburn and Towerbank.
The hub South East Scotland Programme involves local public sector organisations working collaboratively and in partnership with a private sector development partner.