Anger over ‘rushed’ primary school extensions proposals

An artist's impression of the extesion planned for Trinity Primary
An artist's impression of the extesion planned for Trinity Primary
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EDUCATION chiefs have been accused of trying to rush through extensions to four primary schools by building them against government guidelines.

New classrooms are due to be open at Trinity, Wardie, Granton and Victoria primaries by August, even though the £4 million project is still at the consultation stage.

One architect whose children attend Wardie Primary today hit out at the plans, saying the use of permanent prefabricated buildings was against advice handed out by the Scottish 

David Jamieson, 45, also a member of the school’s parent-teacher council, said: “The main problem with these plans is that they follow a standardised, one-size-fits-all model, when a document released by the Scottish Government in 2009 called Building Better Schools clearly states that this approach should not be used.

“It stipulates that the emphasis of new school building should be on innovation and personalisation rather than on standardisation. Too many schools these days are surrounded by these little odd boxes, and to repeat that mistake here seems like a major missed opportunity.

“There has also been no attempt to give the buildings any green credentials whatsoever and the emphasis appears to be on what is best suited to access for the contractors, as opposed to the circulation of pupils around the school or passive solar benefits.”

Mr Jamieson, who works for Zone Architects in Granton and has one son in primary three and another in primary four, also criticised the public consultation process, which is set to end next week.

He said: “The fact that all the consultations were launched at the same time – right before Christmas – is a bit too coincidental, if you ask me. I think this was done deliberately in order to reduce the number of objections received as they knew that school offices would be closed and parents busy.”

Green education spokesperson Councillor Melanie Main said Mr Jamieson’s criticisms were “hard to dispute”.

She said: “The school estate is clearly being compromised by these prefabricated quick fixes. Valuable playground space is being sacrificed because the city council has left itself with little choice other than a rush-job on new school accommodation before this August.

“But this is because it ignored all the warnings about rising school rolls when it closed several primary schools in north Edinburgh over the last five years. Children will be putting up with little more than modern-day Portakabins as a direct result of short-term thinking about the number and quality of schools that the Capital needs.”

Education convener Councillor Paul Godzik defended the city council’s approach.

He said: “The planning applications were submitted with the purpose of meeting the required timeline to get the extensions built by the start of the school term in August. I would encourage anyone with an opinion on this to contribute to the consultation, which is open until January 14.

“We have worked to be on the front foot with this issue and are taking an innovative approach to rising rolls in our schools by introducing high quality classrooms which fit with the needs of each of the schools. We have consulted with these schools and found wide general support for this and locations were chosen to best fit the operational requirements of each school.”