Education chiefs order rethink on size of new Boroughmuir School

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EDUCATION bosses are to look again at plans for a new Boroughmuir High School amid warnings it will already be over-capacity before it opens.

City education convener Paul Godzik pledged to approach the Scottish Government about extra funding for an increased school roll.

Concerns have also been raised about a lack of outdoor sports facilities, and Councillor Godzik pledged to examine whether the canal-side site at Fountainbridge can be reconfigured and whether sports provision could be arranged at nearby Harrison Park.

The move came after a deputation from the school’s parent council appeared at the full council meeting to voice their concerns.

Alison Dunnett, chair of the parent council’s new school sub-group, told the councillors the majority of parents favoured a new school at Fountainbridge rather than a refurbishment of the existing building at Viewforth, but they were also worried about the size of the site.

She said: “The new school has been designed for a capacity of 1150. The school roll for August is projected to be 1163. It will be over-capacity from day one.”

She added that there would be further pressure because the staying-on rate at Boroughmuir had been increasing steadily and major housing developments were planned.

The parent council suggested the roll be increased to 1200.

Cllr Godzik said that might be too high, but added: “Given the fact the school is very popular, we are going to approach the Scottish Government and ask if there could be additional funding provided.”

Cllr Godzik said officials would also look at reconfiguring the site, which currently includes a public park separating the new main school building from a series of smaller pavilions proposed as music and drama bases.

He said they wanted to ensure the park – required under the planning permission for the next-door student housing development – was a community facility, but also available to the school.

Cllr Godzik also said negotiations were under way over the possibility of the school using nearby facilities like Harrison Park East for outdoor sports. The proposed new building includes a full gym and rooftop sports pitch, but pupils would still have to be bussed to Meggetland for full-size pitches.

Gavin Corbett, Green councillor for Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, welcomed the move to look again at key issues.

He said: “Over the next 50 years 10,000 young people will pass through the new school. The last thing we want is for it already to be too small on day one.

“There is scope on that site to find ways of dealing with the issues raised by the parents.”

He said he believed a slight increase in capacity could be achieved without compromising other neighbouring schools.

Boroughmuir parent Scott Arthur was cautious about the council’s latest move.

He said: “Anything that improves on the current one hectare for the school would be good. It is a step forward, but I think I and many other parents would hope for more.”

Work is expected to start on the new building in 2014 with the school due to open in 2016.