Edinburgh high school assured it won’t become Gaelic-only

Parent rachel Guatelli and David Sterratt, the chair of Drummond Community High School Parent Council
Parent rachel Guatelli and David Sterratt, the chair of Drummond Community High School Parent Council
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CITY education bosses have ruled out a proposal that Drummond Community High could be turned into a Gaelic-only school.

Education convener Ian Perry assured parents at Drummond that pupils from the existing catchment area would continue to go to the Bellevue school in the future.

And he said there would be a feasibility study into building a new dedicated Gaelic medium school as part of a joint campus with Drummond.

The comments at a meeting with parents from Drummond and its feeder primaries marks a shift in the council’s position as it considers the future of its secondary-school Gaelic medium education (GME) unit, which has to move from its existing base at James Gillespie’s High because the school is almost full.

An informal consultation is under way, with a transfer of the unit to Drummond the main option.

But the council had also suggested the move could in the long term lead to Drummond becoming a dedicated Gaelic medium school.

David Sterratt, chair of Drummond Parent Council,
welcomed the change of position.

He said: “Councillor Perry has made a commitment to us that ‘Drummond will remain Drummond’ and stressed there is no longer any prospect of the Drummond building becoming the site of a dedicated Gaelic medium secondary school.

“I welcome the clear commitment that pupils living within the existing DCHS catchment area will continue to attend the school, which should go a long way to reassure the community about Drummond’s future.”

He said the idea of some Gaelic-medium pupils moving to Drummond on a temporary basis until a permanent location was found for GME could only be a short-term solution given Drummond’s projected rising school rolls.

“And we have concerns about the disruption it would cause,” he added.

“We have been assured that GME would only move to Drummond if the school can be expanded to ensure existing catchment pupils can always be accommodated and if it is feasible to further develop a campus in future to create a dedicated GME school beside the existing high school.”

Brian Thunder, from Gaelic parents group Comann nam Pàrant, said their long-standing vision was for their children to receive fully immersive Gaelic education in a dedicated school and that approach mattered more than location.

He said: “We believe GME should be built up further at James Gillespie’s prior to any move. We welcome any feasibility study that could show a dedicated GME secondary space would be possible and look forward to the point when the assurances given to the Drummond families can also be given to GME families.”

He said his group remained committed to working constructively with the council.

Cllr Perry said the consultation would continue to find a solution that suited both parties. “We fully understand the GME community’s desire for a separate GME secondary school which remains a coalition commitment,” he said.

“We have given a commitment that Drummond pupils will continue to attend the school as well as exploring how GME pupils can be accommodated on the same site in the short term, and only if a robust long-term plan was in place.

“I repeat our commitment for continued consultation before any final decisions are made.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com